Statement on Afghanistan by Sima Bahous, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women
UN Women strongly condemns the Taliban’s latest discriminatory decision to ban Afghan women from working with the United Nations in Afghanistan. We stand in full solidarity with our colleagues, and all women who everyday put their lives at risk to serve their country and we salute their dedication, professionalism, and bravery. We re-assert their inalienable, fundamental human rights as enshrined in the UN Charter. We will not replace our female workforce with men.
The UN has committed to leave no one behind. UN Women is determined to continue in every way possible to deliver vital services and support, so no woman or girl will be left out or left behind. We will continue to support Afghan women and girls. Afghanistan is in a humanitarian crisis with 28.3 million people—two thirds of the population—needing humanitarian assistance to survive. Almost a quarter of households in Afghanistan are female-headed.
The people of Afghanistan need more aid, not less. I saw and heard this firsthand from Afghan women on my recent visit there. At this dark hour, we must not forget them. The removal of skilled women aid workers decreases women and girls access to critical life-saving services, and it increases their risks when they have to seek assistance from men instead.
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.
UN Women joins the UN Secretary-General in calling on the defacto authorities to immediately revoke this latest decision and reverse all measures that restrict women’s and girls’ rights to work, education and freedom of movement. We continue to call for the lifting of all discriminatory restrictions placed on women and girls by the Taliban since August 2021.