A senior Taliban official told Al Jazeera that the Taliban are working to create so-called “safe environments” for girls in schools and workplaces.

Taliban officials say Islam gives women the right to education, work and entrepreneurship, and the group creates so-called “safe environments” for girls and women in secondary schools and workplaces. He reiterated that he was working on it.

“I must say that Islam gave women the right to be educated, Islam gave women the right to work, Islam gave women the right to start a business,” said Taliban spokesman Sadek Akif of the Deputy Ministry of Virtue. Muhajir told Al Jazeera. .

“If Islam allows it, who am I to forbid it,” he said in an interview.

Muhajir’s comments come more than a year after armed groups took over the country and imposed some restrictions on women’s freedom, including a ban on secondary education for girls.

The move drew international condemnation and sanctions.

Since returning to power, the Taliban have, among other things, closed secondary schools for girls across the country, ordered women to wear hijabs in the workplace and covered their faces in public, and banned women from traveling long distances without men they were close with. forbidden to move. Relative.

Restrictions on freedom and movement are reminiscent of the 1990s, when the Taliban last came to power. During this time, the Taliban denied girls and women their right to education and barred them from public view.

The armed group had promised women’s rights and media freedom after returning to power on 15 August 2021.

The Taliban defended the decision, saying such restrictions were made to protect the “national interest” and the “honor” of women.

Afghanistan’s economic hardship

Muhajir said that now “many women are working in various ministries”, including “people from the former government”.

“I am working to create a situation where they can work in a way that protects their honor,” he said.

But an International Labor Organization (ILO) study earlier this year found that employment levels for Afghan women fell by an estimated 16% in the months immediately following the Taliban takeover. By contrast, male employment fell by 6%.

“In a pessimistic scenario where restrictions tighten and women feel unable to show up safely in the workplace, the scale of female unemployment could reach 28%,” the report said.

A working Afghan woman previously told Al Jazeera that the Taliban did not directly fire female civil servants, but restricted them from entering the workplace and paid them significantly reduced salaries to stay home.

The Taliban’s return to power has exacerbated Afghanistan’s economic woes. The country is reeling from a humanitarian crisis with more than half of the population facing hunger.

Sanctions imposed by the West and the US freezing of nearly $10 billion in Afghan central bank assets have contributed significantly to the collapse of the economy.

The Taliban have been criticized for imposing restrictions on women rather than focusing on saving Afghanistan from economic ruin.

The diplomatic isolation of the Taliban-led government has further exacerbated the situation, with Western countries pressuring the Taliban to allow women more freedom as a condition of engagement.



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