Afghanistan’s Taliban administration declared that its policy banning Afghan women from working in the United Nations (UN) is an “internal issue.”

The Taliban response comes after the UN expressed alarm at the current Afghanistan policy of banning female Afghan staff from working with the international agency. The UN said earlier in a statement that the international body is initiating a review of its operations within the country until May 5 due to concerns about breaching its charter. The Taliban replied that all sides need to “respect this policy” despite the humanitarian consequences caused by such restrictions on Afghan women’s ban to work in the UN.  

According to a CNN  report, the decree forced the international organization “to make an appalling choice between staying and delivering in support of the Afghan people and standing by the norms and principles we are duty-bound to uphold.” The report quoted the UN, stating that the ban on Afghan women was “the latest in a series of discriminatory measures implemented by the Taliban de facto authorities to severely restrict women and girls’ participation in most public and daily life in Afghanistan.”

UN’s statement added that it will continue to “assess the scope, parameters, and consequences of the ban, and pause activities where impeded,” adding that the “matter will be under constant review.”

An Appalling Choice 

The United Nations has been put in a difficult position by the Taliban’s ban on female Afghan aid workers. This decision is an extension of their previous directive last December that prohibited women from working for non-governmental organizations, both national and international. As such, all UN personnel – male or female – have had to stay away from its offices based in Afghanistan, with only limited exceptions made when deemed critical. 

Last week, men employed by the UN stood alongside their female colleagues by staying at home instead of going onsite. Kabul-based male staff members showed solidarity against this move taken by the Taliban government by taking part in an impromptu day off last week. Such developments remain deeply concerning as these impede the crucial efforts done daily by these dedicated professionals who serve those Afghans most vulnerable to poverty or displacement during this challenging time ahead.

UN stood firm on its stance – that any such policy would breach its charter and, in turn, adversely affect humanitarian efforts within Afghanistan. As a result, all staff has been asked to work at home instead of onsite until May 5 while consultations and reviews are conducted about their Afghanistan operations moving forward.