Afghan men working for the United Nations in Kabul will stay home in solidarity with their female colleagues after the Taliban prohibited Afghan women from working for the global organization, according to a senior UN official.
Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN Deputy Special Representative, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, called the Taliban’s decision an “unparalleled violation of human rights.”
“The lives of Afghanistan women are at stake,” he said, adding, “It is not possible to reach women without women.”
International UN staff in Afghanistan will stay at their posts, he added.
The UN said on Wednesday that it had been notified by the Taliban that Afghan women were no longer permitted to work for the UN in Afghanistan and that the measure would be actively enforced.
In a statement, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres demanded Afghanistan’s rulers immediately revoke the order, saying it was discriminatory and breached international human rights law.
The Taliban have increasingly restricted women’s freedoms since seizing power in 2021.
There was no immediate word from their government on why the order had been issued. Foreign female UN workers are exempt.
The UN has been working to bring humanitarian aid to 23 million people in Afghanistan, which is reeling from a severe economic and humanitarian crisis. Female workers play a vital role in on-the-ground aid operations, particularly in identifying other women in need.
“Female staff members are essential for the United Nations operations, including in the delivery of life-saving assistance,” Secretary General Mr Guterres said in a statement.
“The enforcement of this decision will harm the Afghan people, millions of whom are in need of this assistance.