Taliban Restrictions on Women’s Rights

Principal Findings

What’s new? The Taliban have ordered the most sweeping rollbacks of women’s rights since retaking power in 2021, part of a series of escalating moves to enforce the group’s heterodox conservatism. Girls and women are losing access to education, employment and public spaces as well as other basic freedoms.

Why did it happen? The Taliban leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, appears to insist upon these measures out of personal conviction and to assert his authority over the movement and the country. Neither his ideological views nor his quest for power will change in the near term, despite justifiably horrified reactions from around the world.

Why does it matter? The new restrictions have dealt women’s freedoms a grievous blow. They are also impeding delivery of life-saving assistance, disrupting the world’s largest aid operation even as half the population suffers from acute hunger. The unrecognised regime’s isolation undermines humanitarian and development efforts. It may result in drastic aid cuts.

What should be done? No good options exist for protecting women’s and girls’ rights and helping millions of people suffering under Taliban rule. Aid workers must pause and recalibrate when they cannot uphold humanitarian principles. Donors should fund humanitarian appeals and try to create space for development agencies and address the country’s socio-economic disaster...

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