Afghanistan: Statement by High Representative Josep Borrell on the latest decisions by the Taliban on the participation of women in public life

25.12.2022 EEAS Press Team

On 24 December, the Taliban reportedly issued an order banning women from working for national and international non-governmental organisations, and threatening such organisations with the withdrawal of their permits in case of non-compliance.

This follows last week’s ban of women attending university and a violent crackdown of peaceful protests by women against this decision.

The EU is appalled by these decisions, which add to previous restrictions introduced by the Taliban on women’s ability and right to work, get education and, as repeatedly emphasised by the whole international community, constitutes a clear violation of their basic human rights. Together they amount to erasing women from public space. 

Currently an estimated 30 million Afghans – men, women and children – are dependent on humanitarian aid, including food and medical assistance, for their survival. The effective assessment of needs and delivery of humanitarian assistance, as well as assistance to meet basic needs and support livelihoods, require safe and unhindered access for aid workers, including women, throughout the country. Women have a particular important role in the delivery of assistance to other women. Restricting women’s participation in this critical work will prevent the delivery of such assistance to a large part of the population, including widows, women-led households and children.

The EU, as one of the major providers of humanitarian and basic needs assistance to the people of Afghanistan, strongly condemns this ban and calls on the Taliban to lift their decision immediately, as part of their obligation to respect international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles. In the meantime, the EU will assess the impact the decision by the Taliban will have on the EU’s ability to continue providing assistance to Afghans in need. 

Together with other providers of assistance to the people of Afghanistan, the EU will have to consider what consequences this decision, and the recent decision by the Taliban to close universities for women, will have on their engagement with our countries and organisations.

Nabila Massrali
Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
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