Afghanistan: MSF condemns ban on women working for the UN

Ban will only worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis in the country

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NEW YORK, APRIL 5, 2023—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) strongly condemns the decision by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), also known as the Taliban, to ban Afghan women from working for the United Nations in the country. Women play a critical role in the provision of humanitarian assistance and health care services in Afghanistan—a country where people are mostly dependent on humanitarian aid and face extreme poverty fueled in part by skyrocketing unemployment.

As of now, MSF's teams have not been directly affected by IEA bans on women workers and continue to provide medical services to people in need across the country. More than 51 percent of MSF's medical staff in Afghanistan are women, including doctors, nurses, and other professionals who strive every day to give thousands of Afghans the best care possible.

MSF issued the following statement in response to the decision:

"Yesterday the IEA notified the UN that no Afghan woman is permitted to work for the UN in Afghanistan, and that this measure will be actively enforced. This decision extends the directive previously announced on December 24 that banned Afghan women working for national and international non-governmental organizations.

"MSF strongly condemns this decision by the Afghan authorities.

"No country can thrive when half of its population is marginalized and systematically discriminated against. No humanitarian organization can deliver assistance at full capacity without female staff. This decision by the IEA is another step in their systematic attempt to exclude women from every aspect of public life. The new ban will only worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

"In order for essential services to be available to women and men, they must be delivered by women and men. MSF in Afghanistan remains committed to providing medical care to all who need it. We maintain our current teams as they are."