The Taliban Saturday ordered domestic and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to cease employment of female staff members. In an order provided to JURIST by an Afghanistan source, Taliban Minister of Economy Qari Din Mohammad Hanif said “serious complaints have been received regarding female employees’ incompliance with the Islamic hijab and other relevant laws and guidelines” by NGO employees.
Therefore, the Ministry decided:
To fulfill its responsibility pertinent to the enforcement of the applicable laws and guidelines regarding the operations of the NGOs currently and in the past, the Ministry of Economy instructs all NGOs to put all their female employees’ job [sic] on halt until further notice. In case of delayed action on this instruction, the NGO’s work permit issued by the Ministry of Economy will be revoked.
NGOs play a major role in Afghanistan. According to a 2022 Voice of America report, the UN alone provided essential services to 70 percent of Afghans in 2022. Experts estimate that at least 891 NGOs operated in Afghanistan between 2000 and 2014. A source called the ban “very sad” and noted that the Taliban “are broadening their systematic discrimination against women day by day.” A JURIST correspondent added, “It is getting worse every day. No one feels ok these days. I faced no one who is happy.”
The announcement comes just four days after the Taliban banned women from universities. The decision drew sharp criticism from Afghans, human rights organizations and the international community. Both changes violate the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Under Article 23, all people have the right to “free choice of employment,” and under Article 26, high education should be “equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.”