The Taliban have banned Afghan women from working in non-governmental organizations in the country.
The letter said the employees would not be allowed to work for the NGO until further notice because some did not adhere to the Taliban’s interpretation of the Islamic dress code for women.
The Economy Ministry said it had received “serious complaints” that female staff were not wearing the “correct” headscarf or hijab.
This ban comes days after Afghan women stopped going to university by the Taliban, a move that provoked international condemnation.
It is not clear whether the ban, announced in the letter and confirmed by the economy ministry, also applied to foreign women or those working for the United Nations, which has a significant presence in the country.
The economy ministry said the ban applies to Afghanistan’s coordinating body for humanitarian organizations, known as ACBAR, which does not include the UN.
However, the UN contracts non-governmental organizations that are part of ACBAR in Afghanistan to carry out their humanitarian work.
The UN said in a statement that they hope to meet with the Taliban to seek clarity on the matter, and Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN’s deputy special representative for Afghanistan and humanitarian coordinator, added that most of the work in the country was done by non-governmental organizations.
“Many of our programs will be affected, and we will not be able to implement them because, unless we have the participation of female staff in the assessment of humanitarian needs, in the identification of beneficiaries, in the provision of aid and in the distribution of aid – then we will not be able to implement them,” said Alakbarov .
In recent days, the Taliban have used water cannons to disperse those protesting a ban on women attending university.
Witnesses in the western city of Herat said more than 20 women on their way to the provincial governor’s house on Saturday shouting “education is our right” were pushed back by security forces who fired water cannons.
The video shows the women screaming and hiding to escape the water.
One of the organizers of the protest, Mariam, said that between 100 and 150 women participated in the protests, moving in smaller groups.
“There was security on every street, in every square, armored vehicles and armed men,” she said.
“When we started our protest, in Tariki Park, the Taliban were removing branches from trees and beating us. But we continued the protest. They have increased their security presence. Around 11 o’clock they brought out the water cannon.
Hamidullah Mutawakil, the local governor, disputed that version of events, saying only five people showed up who “didn’t have an agenda, they just came to make a movie.”
After the Taliban seized power last year, the militants promised a more moderate rule for women’s rights, but have since banned them from schools, most businesses, parks and gyms.
Women in the country are also required to dress in head-to-toe niqab in public, with only their eyes open.