Following “severe objections” about their dress code, Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders ordered all national and international NGOs to stop employing women, the economy ministry reported on Saturday.
The decree threatened to suspend the non-governmental organizations’ (NGOs) operating licenses if they did not follow the mandate.
Governments and organizations warned of the impact on humanitarian assistance in a nation where millions rely on help after the action received rapid worldwide condemnation.
Less than a week ago, the Taliban authorities forbade women from enrolling in institutions, sparking indignation around the world and demonstrations in certain Afghan cities.
When the Taliban retook control in August of last year, they had promised a more tolerant type of government, but they have instead put draconian limitations on women, effectively excluding them from public life.
The notification sent to NGOs cited “serious complaints regarding the non-observance of the Islamic hijab and other rules and regulations pertaining to the work of females in national and international organizations,” according to a copy obtained by AFP and confirmed by a spokesman for the economy ministry.
The notification stated that the ministry “instructs all organizations to stop ladies working until further notice,” and threatened to revoke the organization’s license if it disobeyed the directive.
It remained unclear whether the directive impacted foreign women staff at NGOs.
Two international NGOs confirmed they had received the notification.
“We are suspending all our activities from Sunday,” a top official at an international NGO involved in humanitarian work told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“We will soon have a meeting of top officials of all NGOs to decide how to handle this issue.”