CW4WAfghan Calls for Immediate Reversal of Ban on Women Working in NGOs

Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan calls on the de facto authorities in Afghanistan to reverse their decision to ban Afghan women from working at NGOs.

“This decision, particularly at a time when millions of Afghans are facing famine, and the country is in a devastating humanitarian crisis, will have deadly consequences for millions of Afghans who rely on the work of organizations delivering essential services that the current authorities have been unable or unwilling to deliver”

 She also added, “these services rely on the thousands of women who work in humanitarian and development organizations.” For this reason, major international organizations that have delivered life-saving programming in Afghanistan for decades, including Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee, the Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE, and others, have suspended operations in the country, and issued a statement calling on the Taliban to reverse the ban. In a press conference today, the agencies warned: “If we’re not able to start our programming, children will die. Hundreds and thousands of people will die, that’s how serious the situation is.”

They point out that their work is not possible without their female workforce. Other organizations, from grassroots women’s collectives to specialized technical assistance organizations that have stayed in Afghanistan to courageously deliver assistance amidst the dangers and challenges of the current operating environment, are also now suspending operations in response to the ban.

Besides the impact on populations dependent on aid, the ban would end the employment of women personnel in NGOs. At a time when unemployment in Afghanistan is soaring, plunging families into poverty, this decision is another cruel blow to families already struggling to put food on the table and meet basic needs, since the economic crisis triggered by the events of August 15, 2021. Earlier this year, it was already estimated that Afghanistan has lost at least USD$1 billion as a consequence of restrictions placed on women working.

“This latest restriction against women’s freedom is catastrophic not only for the women cut off from their incomes – often the breadwinners of their families – but also for the millions of people depending on the assistance the NGO community in Afghanistan delivers”

She also points out that Afghanistan is one of the most aid-dependent countries in the world, where a significant proportion of the economy is based on foreign assistance.

The ban on women working for NGOs follows a ban on women in higher education, announced 20 December and effective from the date of announcement. 

We join other Canadian organizations including Islamic Relief and World Vision Canada, in calling for an immediate and full reversal of this ban.