Afghan women face up to reality of workplace ban

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 21 Sep 2021

The Taliban's ban on women working sank in yesterday, sparking rage over the dramatic loss of rights after millions of female teachers and girls were barred from secondary school education.

After pledging a softer version of their repressive regime of the 1990s, the Islamic fundamentalists are tightening their control of women's freedoms one month after seizing power.

"I may as well be dead," said one woman, who was sacked from her senior role at the ministry of foreign affairs. "I was in charge of a whole department and there were many women working with me. Now we have all lost our jobs."

The acting mayor of the capital Kabul has said any municipal jobs held by women would be filled by men.

The education ministry ordered male teachers and students back to secondary school at the weekend, but made no mention of the country's millions of women educators and girl pupils.

The Taliban on Friday also appeared to shut down the former government's ministry of women's affairs and replaced it with one that earned notoriety during their first stint in power for enforcing religious doctrine.

While the new rulers have not issued a formal policy outright banning women from working, directives by individual officials have amounted to their exclusion from the workplace. Many Afghan women fear they will never find employment.

Although still marginalized, Afghan women have fought for and gained basic rights in the past 20 years, becoming lawmakers, judges, pilots and police officers, though mostly limited to large cities. Hundreds of thousands have entered the workforce - a necessity in some cases as many women were widowed or now support invalid husbands.

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