Statement on the decision to ban women NGO workers in Afghanistan
The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) is profoundly concerned by the recent announcement of the de facto authorities (DFA) that women are no longer allowed to work with national and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Afghanistan. Following only four days after the suspension of women’s rights to attend higher education, the ban on women NGO workers is one more step to completely exclude women from contributing to the development of their country, as well as a breach of humanitarian principles and a violation of women’s rights.
Together with other NGOs, SCA is now seeking clarity on the implementation of this ban and assessing its consequences. SCA opposes the decision and urges the DFAto revoke it.
Should the decision be implemented the effects will be detrimental to millions of Afghans in need of health services, education, humanitarian aid and livelihoods support, through SCA and other national and international NGOs. In addition, thousands of families that today depend on women as the sole breadwinners will be deprived of the only income they currently have.
The 2,800 female staff of SCA are essential to our provision of services in 19 provinces in Afghanistan. Some examples of what will be at stake if our female staff can no longer work are:
Health care in two provinces with a total population of around 1 million people
Assisted delivery of around 18,000 children (2021 annual total)
Education to 104,100 girls and boys (2021 annual total)
Physiotherapy to over 22,000 patients (2021 annual total)
Vaccinations to over 21,000 children (2021 annual total).
These and many other potentially life-saving services cannot be delivered without the dedicated work of female NGO workers.
SCA therefore urges the DFA to consider the impact of the recent announcement on the most vulnerable groups of the Afghan population and the catastrophic consequences it will have in the short and long term.
From: Andreas Stefansson, Secretary General