Taliban’s decision to ban Afghan women from working with the United Nations will cost children’s lives

6th April 2023


Taliban’s decision to ban Afghan women from working with the United Nations will cost children’s lives

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell and UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power echo condemnation of ban

NEW YORK/DUBLIN, 6 April 2023 – “Afghanistan is home to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. More than 28 million people, including over 15 million children, need humanitarian and protection assistance this year—a staggering increase of 4 million people over 2022. Hunger and disease are lurking. And the economy is in tatters.”

“Yet despite this devastating situation, the de facto authorities have taken the unconscionable and confounding decision to ban Afghan women from working with the United Nations in Afghanistan, including UNICEF. Coming on the heels of the decree banning Afghan women from working with NGOs, this decision is yet another affront to women’s fundamental rights and further undermines the delivery of humanitarian assistance across the country.

“Afghan women are the lifeblood of our humanitarian response. They are highly skilled and uniquely placed to reach the most vulnerable Afghans—including children and women, the sick and elderly, as well as those living with disabilities. They have access to populations that their male colleagues cannot reach. They are nutrition experts, community health and social workers, teachers, vaccinators, nurses, doctors and much more. With one of the largest operations on the ground, UNICEF is aiming to reach 19 million Afghans with essential services this year alone. We are providing treatment for severely malnourished children. We are making sure families have warm clothes and that communities have safe water to drink. And we are getting lifesaving vaccines and other supplies to medical centers. Female workers are vital to the success of our work. Without them, the humanitarian disaster unfolding inside Afghanistan will intensify, and more children will die.

“UNICEF echoes the UN Secretary-General in strongly condemning the de facto authorities’ decision to ban Afghan women from working with the United Nations in Afghanistan. We strongly urge the de facto authorities to revoke the decision and reverse all measures that restrict women’s and girls’ rights to work, education, and freedom of movement,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.

UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power travelled to Afghanistan last year and saw first-hand the spiralling crisis faced by children and families, and how critical Afghan women are to the United Nation’s humanitarian response. “I was in Afghanistan in the months following the Taliban takeover and saw the harrowing level of poverty faced by families across the country. In village after village, the children we met were facing dire circumstances. However, amid the turmoil, what fostered hope was the skill and determination of Afghan women, many working for UNICEF and other United Nations agencies. The recent Taliban decision to ban Afghan women from working with the United Nations in Afghanistan will only serve to put more children’s lives at risk and deepen the worsening humanitarian crisis. This decision should be revoked, and the Taliban should ensure that every woman and girl has access to her rights,” he said.



Notes to Editor:


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.ie

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For more information, please contact:

Danny Smits, UNICEF Ireland, +353 87 1308070, danny@unicef.ie

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