Secretary General of NRC calls on IEA to scrap female worker ban

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The bombing near theThe head of a major aid group that suspended work in Afghanistan after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) banned female NGO workers said on Thursday he would write to the administration’s senior figures in Kandahar and ask them to change the policy, Reuters reported.

Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said it was crucial to engage with the leadership in the southern city, home to the IEA’s supreme leader, Hebatullah Akhundzada.

“The letter I’m drafting will say: We know you, we worked in … areas controlled by the Taliban (IEA) for many years. You know us,” said Egeland.

“You know that our female staff have always used the hijab. They’ve had … a male chaperone on longer travel. Your people are suffering because of your ban on female workers.”

The IEA last month ordered all local and foreign aid groups to stop letting female staff work until further notice.

It said the move, which was condemned globally, was justified because some women had not adhered to the IEA’s interpretation of the Islamic dress code.

Many NGOs suspended operations in response, saying they needed female workers to reach women in the conservative country.

Egeland, who visited the capital Kabul this week, said officials there had told him they were in favor of women working at NGOs, but that the order had come from Kandahar. Spokespeople for the IEA administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Egeland said he had arranged meetings in Kandahar with the Ulema Council, made up of religious scholars, and the provincial governor, as it was not possible for foreign humanitarian agencies to meet directly with Akhundzada, Reuters reported.

But after bad weather halted flights, he said he would write instead and try to arrange online meetings.

He said he welcomed some signs of flexibility in health and others areas, where some female and male workers worked alongside each other. But he called for a full reversal of the ban.

“Our male staff cannot go to widows, single mothers and their children, to all of the vulnerable female groups here and thereby were prevented from doing all work,” he said.—Ariana news