The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday said it was “deeply alarmed” by the ruling Taliban’s ban on women attending university or working for aid groups in Afghanistan.
In moves widely condemned by the international community, the Islamist group last week ordered all local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to stop their female employees from coming to work and suspended university education for all female students in the country.
In its statement Tuesday, the UNSC expressed its “deep concern” and called for “the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women and girls in Afghanistan.”
It also urged the Taliban to reverse its policies, “which represents an increasing erosion for the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
The new restrictions mark yet another step in the Taliban’s brutal crackdown on the freedoms of Afghan women, following the hardline Islamist group’s takeover of the country in August 2021.
Although the Taliban repeatedly claimed it would protect the rights of girls and women, the group has done the opposite, stripping away the hard-won freedoms for which women have fought tirelessly over the past two decades.
Some of the Taliban’s most striking restrictions have been around education, with girls also barred from returning to secondary schools in March. The move devastated many students and their families, who described to CNN their dashed dreams of becoming doctors, teachers or engineers.
At least half a dozen major foreign aid groups have said they are temporarily suspending their operations in Afghanistan following the ban on female NGO employees.
The NGO ban would impact humanitarian operations in the country, including those of the UN, the UNSC statement said.
“These restrictions contradict the commitments made by the Taliban to the Afghan people as well as the expectations of the international community,” the UNSC added.
Writing on Twitter Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the restrictions were “unjustifiable human rights violations and must be revoked.”
“Actions to exclude and silence women and girls continue to cause immense suffering and major setbacks to the potential of the Afghan people,” he said.
CNN’s Sophie Tanno, Chris Liakos, Ehsan Popalzai, Sahar Akbarzai, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Ivana Kottasová contributed to this report.