Photo: UNAMA

UN: We will not replace our female workforce with men

The UN Women Executive Director, Sima Bahous, has made it clear that the organization will not bow down to the Taliban’s recent ban on women working for UN offices in Afghanistan. 

On Tuesday the United Nations confirmed it had asked thousands of its employees in Afghanistan to not come to work at least for two days after the Taliban notified its officials that women were not permitted to work with the organization.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the UN women chief, Sima Bahous expressed her solidarity with female UN staffs in the country and condemned the discriminatory decision of the Taliban. 

“We re-assert their inalienable, fundamental human rights as enshrined in the UN charter,” the statement said. “The de facto authorities’ denial of women’s and girls’ rights to education and to engagement in society and the economy of Afghanistan is a self-inflicted wound on the country. This damage to future recovery and resilience deepens with every woman and girl whose horizons have been forcibly shrunk to her home’s four walls.” 

The leaders of six aid organizations comprising Save the Children, Norwegian Refugee Council, Danish Refugee Council, INTERSOS, Action Against Hunger, and World Vision, in a joint statement called on the Taliban to rescind the ban on female aid workers employed in UN office in Afghanistan. 

“Without our female staff, the humanitarian community cannot effectively reach women and girls. With more than 28 million people in desperate need of aid to survive, this act will cut off people’s lifelines. We call on the De Facto Authorities to lift the ban and allow all female aid workers in Afghanistan to return to work immediately. With Afghanistan facing record levels of hunger the cost of this ban will be measured by lives lost.” The statement said. 

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), in exile, also criticized the Taliban’s decision, warning that it would put the lives of Afghan citizens in danger. “We see this as significant setback for human rights standards and the values upheld by the United Nations and call upon Taliban to reconsider this decision and rescind it,” 

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called the ban “a counter-productive decision” and asked the Taliban to revisit this “unacceptable decision” and allow both men and women to partake in the reconstruction of their country after decades of violent conflict and socio-economic vulnerability.