The Taliban may allow Afghan women to return to work at a Norwegian Refugee Council agency in Kandahar, according to the organization’s secretary-general, Jan Egeland. Last December, the Taliban banned Afghan women from working at nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) because they were not observing gender segregation rules. In April, the ban was extended to United Nations offices and agencies in Afghanistan. Egeland met with officials in Kabul and Kandahar to persuade them to reverse the ban on the organization’s female staff. The temporary arrangement would be in place while nationwide guidelines are developed. The interim arrangement would cover all sectors and programming by the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Aid agencies have been providing food, education, and health care support to Afghans in the wake of the Taliban takeover in August 2021. The distribution of aid has been severely impacted by the December ban. Egeland made it clear to the Taliban that the agency needs to be able to deliver aid as it did before the ban, and with women. The Norwegian Refugee Council negotiated with the Taliban to provide education and relief in areas under their control during the war. Egeland insisted that the organization will not employ male-only teams or deliver male-only aid work.