Taliban banning women from higher education and from working with humanitarian organizations

26 December 2022


Statement by Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA

I strongly condemn the recent decrees by the Taliban de facto authorities banning women from higher education and from working with national and international humanitarian organizations. These decisions violate international human rights law and deny women and girls in Afghanistan the freedom and ability to make their own choices and decisions, depriving them of their autonomy and the rights to which they are entitled as human beings.

By denying women and girls the right to education, the de facto authorities are denying the contributions of half the Afghan population to the country’s national development, economic growth, and stability. 

Women are also key to an effective humanitarian response. Each month, 24,000 women give birth in hard-to-reach areas of Afghanistan, and these women need health services to deliver safely.  UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, counts on female humanitarian workers to deliver life-saving health and protection services to women and girls in Afghanistan. Over the past year, they and other partners helped UNFPA reach 4.3 million Afghans with essential reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health services, and nearly 1 million people with psychosocial support services, life-skills training and information.

UNFPA stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, as we have done for the past 46 years. We call on the de facto authorities to allow women and girls to return to school and to allow women working for non-governmental organizations to continue their life-saving work for the millions of Afghan people in dire need.

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