Afghanistan: UN Halts Some Operations Amid Women Workers Ban

The UN announced on Wednesday that some “time-critical” programs in Afghanistan have temporarily stopped and warned that many other activities will also likely need to be paused due to the Taliban government's ban on female aid workers.

Afghanistan: UN Halts Some Operations Amid Women Workers Ban
Image credit: Reuters

Facts

  • The UN announced on Wednesday that some “time-critical” programs in Afghanistan have temporarily stopped and warned that many other activities will also likely need to be paused due to the Taliban government's ban on female aid workers.
  • In a joint statement with the heads of UN agencies and several aid groups, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said that women's "participation in aid delivery is not negotiable and must continue," calling on the Taliban to undo the ban put in place on Saturday.
  • The statement added that barring women from humanitarian work has "immediate life-threatening consequences for all Afghans" as this ruling creates "operational constraints" on delivering principled humanitarian assistance.
  • This comes as the 15-member UN Security Council has called for gender equality in Afghanistan and denounced the Taliban's policies toward women in public life, urging restrictions to be reversed.
  • A day after the ban on female aid workers was introduced, major international aid groups Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and CARE suspended operations on claims that they couldn't effectively operate without their women workers.
  • According to the UN, more than 28M people in Afghanistan need humanitarian and other assistance as the country is faced with famine, economic decline, deepening poverty, and a harsh winter.

Sources: Guardian, Reuters, Al Jazeera, BBC News, and NPR Online News.

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by The Guardian. A rare unanimous condemnation by the UNSC may be adequate to demonstrate that the Taliban has gone too far in its crackdown on women's rights, amounting to unjustifiable human rights violations against the Afghan people as it silences and excludes half of its population — a move that not only slows human rights and domestic economic progress but hinders humanitarian efforts in the country.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Bakhtar. The suspension of women's employment in foreign NGOs is a matter of Afghanistan's internal affairs that has been decided by its own leaders, so foreign powers should refrain from meddling in it. And, given that Afghanistan is a sovereign state, all those institutions willing to operate within the country must comply with its rules and regulations instead of making threats.