The Taliban prohibit women from working in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Afghanistan. Several NGOs can therefore no longer continue their work in the country. Development Minister Schulze says that this has created a completely new situation.

Because of the ban on women working in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) imposed by the Taliban, German Development Minister Svenja Schulze wants to suspend the current support for the time being. “By banning the employment of women in non-governmental organizations, the Taliban in Afghanistan have dealt an irresponsible blow to aid for the Afghan people,” says a BMZ press release.

Without women workers, organizations could not continue their work in many areas for half of the population. “This created a completely new situation,” says Schulze. In the short term, the BMZ and the World Bank will invite those involved in the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund to a meeting to discuss whether and, if so, how the support work for the people in Afghanistan can be continued in the situation now created by the Taliban.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), which provides help in the areas of health and education and employs 3,000 women across Afghanistan, also announced on Sunday evening that it was ceasing its activities for the time being. The IRC is “dependent on female employees” at all levels, the New York-based organization explained. “If we are not allowed to employ women, we cannot help those in need,” it said.

Other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had previously suspended their activities in Afghanistan. “Until we have clarity about this announcement, we are suspending our programs,” said a joint statement from Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Care on Sunday. Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock declared that Germany would work “for a clear reaction from the international community”. In their statement, the three organizations called for “men and women alike to continue our life-saving assistance in Afghanistan.”

The radical Islamic Taliban, after a few days earlier banning women from higher education, announced the ban on Saturday, citing “serious complaints” about women working for NGOs not wearing the hijab.

(This article was first published on Monday, December 26, 2022.)