HomeUnited Nations‘Unfathomable restrictions’ on women’s legal rights risk destabilizing Afghanistan

‘Unfathomable restrictions’ on women’s legal rights risk destabilizing Afghanistan

“It is all the more distressing with Afghanistan in the grip of winter, when we know humanitarian needs are at their greatest and the work these NGOs do is all the more critical”. “Attempts by the  de facto   authorities to relegate them to silence and invisibility will not succeed – it will merely harm all Afghans, compound their suffering, and impede the country’s development. This kind of policies cannot be justified in any way”. “The ban will significantly impair, if not destroy, the capacity of these NGOs to deliver the essential services where so many vulnerable Afghans depend”, lamented Mr. Türk.

Banned from work

“These unfathomable restrictions positioned on women and girls will not only boost the suffering of all Afghans however I fear, pose a risk beyond Afghanistan’s borders”.   He urged the  de facto   authorities to “respect and protect” the rights of all women and girls – to be seen, heard, and involved in all aspects of Afghanistan’s “social, political and economic life” in line with its international obligations.     “ Women and girls can not be denied their inherent legal rights ”, he underscored.

Rippling effects

On 24 December, the  de facto   authorities issued a decree banning women from working in non-governmental organizations (NGOs).   Many NGOs – usually staffed with women, which includes in leadership roles – are essential partners for the UN and other agencies in applying humanitarian and development programs throughout the country. The High Commissioner furthermore voiced deep concern that increased hardship in Afghan society is likely to increase the weeknesses of women and girls to sexual and gender-based violence and domestic violence. This latest decree implemented the suspension of university or college education for women and secondary schooling for girls until what they termed further notice.

Threat of violence

“Banning women from working in NGOS will deprive them plus their families of their incomes, and of their right to contribute positively to the development of their country and to the well-being of the fellow citizens”, warned the High Commissioner. NGOs and humanitarian education organizations provide critical life-saving services for many people in Afghanistan, including food, water, protection and healthcare, as well as crucial programmes, such as pre- plus post-natal and infant treatment, which are only provided by women. “No country can develop – indeed survive – socially and economically with half its population excluded”, said the High Commissioner with regard to Human Rights.

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