The United Nations is facing a difficult decision regarding whether to continue its operations in Afghanistan, as the Taliban government has banned women from working for the organisation. The Taliban has imposed numerous restrictions on Afghan women since taking power in 2021, including banning them from higher education and many government jobs. In December, they extended the ban to Afghan women working for domestic and foreign non-governmental organisations, and on April 4, they extended it to UN offices across the country. The UN mission in Afghanistan has stated that the ban is “unlawful under international law” and that the United Nations cannot comply. The Taliban’s increasing restrictions on women are reminiscent of their first government between 1996 and 2001, when they were responsible for numerous human rights violations against girls and women. The UN mission head has initiated an “operational review” to determine next steps. The world body employs approximately 400 Afghan women in the country. Since the ban was announced, the UN has ordered all its Afghan staff, men and women, not to report to the offices until further notice. The ban triggered international outrage, with the Taliban authorities coming under severe criticism. Many NGOs suspended all operations in the country in protest after the ban on women staff was announced in December.
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