One of our female staff members opens up to VOX to discuss the latest decree from Afghanistan that states women are no longer able to work in NGOs. She discusses how devastating this decision was for herself and the other women she works with.
Saara, who works for an international agency in Afghanistan, said that on the December day the Taliban banned women from working for nongovernmental organizations, she thought: Just “kill us at once.”
This was the latest of the Taliban’s edicts to restrict the rights of women, like banning girls from attending secondary school in March, and then universities in December, and now taking away their jobs. They “have a knife,” she said of the Taliban. “It is not a knife which is able to cut something at once; you need to try again and again with a knife to cut something. They are cutting us like this. So we said: ‘They must kill us at once.’”
Saara (a pseudonym to protect her safety) is a mother of two, and her income effectively supports her family. If she sits at home, she says, it is not possible to provide the basics, even food.
The same is true for the people she helps through Women for Women International, whose programs offer training and financial empowerment to women, along with cash assistance. Now these activities are on hold. The only thing clear, Saara said, was that Afghan women had no rights. “Nothing, just we can breathe,” she said. “Not more than this.”
Women like Saara, who train teachers, assist with maternal care, or distribute other aid, remain in a precarious limbo. The ban on female NGO employment further shuts out women from public and economic life and threatens to deepen the humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan.