UNITED NATIONS (AA) – The UN and several international humanitarian agencies have asked the Taliban to expand exceptions for women to work in humanitarian, health and education sectors.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths traveled to Kabul last week with a delegation including Janti Soeripto (president of Save the Children US), Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro (secretary general of Care International), and Omar Abdi (deputy executive director for programs at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The delegation pressed the Taliban to lift the ban on female aid workers.
Last month, the Taliban temporarily banned Afghan women from working at national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), citing the non-observance of the required dress code.
The ban put some programs on hold, sowing fears that the already dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan will get worse.
Some 28 million people are in need of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, according to the UN.
”In addition to making clear our grave concern about the edict itself, we then also said, okay, if you’re not rescinding the edict now, then we must expand these exceptions to cover all the aspects of humanitarian action,” Griffiths told reporters at UN headquarters following the visit.
”We expressed our opposition to the ban, hope for it to be rescinded, and in the meantime asked for it to be, further sectors to be granted these exceptions or authorizations for the role and the function of women.”
He said the Taliban asked the delegation to be patient and told it that guidelines are being developed.
Griffiths added, ”Our view is that the message has clearly been delivered that women are central, essential workers in the humanitarian sector, in addition to having rights, and we need to see them back to work.”
The freezing of Afghanistan’s foreign assets following the Taliban’s return to power on August 15, 2021, has left the worn-torn country in humanitarian crisis.