The head of the humanitarian agency said Thursday that the Taliban had agreed to consider allowing Afghan women to work for the agency in southern Kandahar province, the political and religious center of the country’s ruling elite.
Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, met with officials in the capitals of Kabul and Kandahar to persuade them to lift the work of women.
The Taliban barred women in December from working for non-governmental organizations, claiming that they were not wearing the hijab – the traditional Islamic headscarf – and did not abide by rules to work separately from men. In April, the Taliban decided to extend the ban on UN offices and organizations in Afghanistan. There are exceptions in some sectors, such as health and education.
“We have an agreement to immediately begin negotiations for a temporary arrangement that will allow our female colleagues to work in Kandahar and with others,” Egeland told The Associated Press. “If we can have an exception in Kandahar, we can replicate it elsewhere.”
The Taliban declared in January that they were developing ways for their women to work in NGOs. Egeland said that a few days ago the authorities told him that the roads were almost ready, but did not give him a time frame or more.
A temporary arrangement will be in place while national regulations are being developed. The plan, Egeland Norway, would cover all Norwegian Refugee Council plans.
Aid organizations have been providing food, education and medical care to Afghans following a Taliban takeover in August 2021 and economic collapse. But such support was severely hit by the ban on women working for such institutions.
Egeland said the Taliban have made it clear that the agency needs help like before the ban and with women.