UN Photo/Mark Garten

Taliban Leader Sets Payment for Fired Female Employees, UN Humanitarian Chief Says Their Initial Hopes Dashed 

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Martin Griffiths, the UN Deputy Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, says that the situation in Afghanistan has substantially deteriorated since the Taliban returned to power and the minimal initial hopes some had have vanished.

Griffiths made these remarks during his final press briefing as the UN’s humanitarian aid and emergency relief coordinator. He recalled his visit to Kabul on behalf of the UN Secretary-General to meet the new de facto leaders shortly after they took power in 2021.

“At that time, we had hopes. In fact, we had written commitments on how we could move forward with the Taliban. And those hopes have been dashed.”

Griffiths pointed out that the Taliban’s decrees against women and girls have come one after another, imposing severe restrictions on their education and employment. Currently, women are not allowed to work in government offices or non-governmental organizations, including the United Nations.

The prohibition on women’s employment has made it difficult to deliver aid to those in need. Despite the international community’s insistence on lifting these restrictions, the Taliban have not changed their stance.

However, just hours after Griffiths’ remarks, the Taliban’s leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, ordered that female employees in government offices, who have been confined to their homes since the group came to power, be paid a monthly salary of five thousand Afghanis (equivalent to around $80.)

Akhundzada’s directive

The directive from Akhundzada was communicated to Taliban-run offices in a letter from the group’s administrative department, a copy of which has leaked to the media. The letter states that the salaries of all female government employees hired by the previous administration, and now paid by the Taliban government, will be set at five thousand Afghanis.

A source in the Taliban’s Ministry of Finance confirmed the letter’s authenticity, saying that homebound employees will receive a monthly payment of five thousand Afghanis, while those still working will receive their full salaries.

Since the Taliban’s return to power, most female employees in government offices have been confined to their homes. However, in some departments, including passport and identification offices, women still report to work. Taliban officials had previously claimed that female employees would continue to receive their salaries as before, although it is reported that many female employees have been replaced with Taliban members and other men.

The Taliban have also banned women from working in non-governmental organizations, including the United Nations, affecting many female employees who are the primary breadwinners for their families. Experts warn that preventing women from working harms Afghanistan’s economy and exacerbates poverty.