Taliban Bar Women From NGOs, Threatening to Worsen Crisis

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Even for groups that remain in Afghanistan, the loss of women humanitarian workers could seriously hinder the delivery of aid, particularly to women in need. In many parts of the country, women typically only interact with men in their family and would be unable to directly receive aid — like food parcels or medical care — from male aid workers.

Hours after the decree was announced, a few international aid groups were discussing immediately suspending their operations in the country until further notice. John Morse, country director for DACAAR, a Danish nonprofit, said he would close his office on Sunday to discuss the consequences of the ban with his senior leadership.

“I think the big discussion is solidarity” among N.G.O.s and trying to press the Afghan government to reverse the decree, he said.

The edict comes less than a week after the Afghan government barred women from attending private and public universities, crushing the hopes of millions of girls who have watched as the rights they grew up with under American occupation have been slowly erased since the Western-backed government collapsed. In March, the new government also reneged on promises to allow girls to attend public high schools.

The moves further signaled that the Taliban’s leadership has cast aside any intent to moderate, and is determined to reinstitute the hard-line rule that the group maintained during its first stretch in power, in the 1990s.

Both announcements also underscore how ideological hard-liners within the Taliban movement, including its supreme leader, Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada, have increasingly imposed their influence over those who have urged moderation in order to maintain engagement with the international community.

Stoking fears that the authorities plan to further roll back women’s rights, security forces in the capital, Kabul, this week held meetings with school principals, teachers and administrators of private education centers, instructing them to shut down their winter courses for all girls — including those in primary schools — and send home their female teachers, according to six education professionals across five districts in Kabul.

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