Afghan women suffer discrimination under Taliban rule: report

“The crisis in Afghanistan has made an already challenging situation for women workers even worse,” Ramin Behzad, Senior Coordinator of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for Afghanistan said, referring to a report conducted by the ILO.

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The report “examines the effect of the August 15 Taliban takeover on Afghanistan’s economy and offers projections on how employment levels will fare in 2022. The projected scenarios are based on a multitude of factors including migration out of the country, the participation of women in the workforce and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to the ILO research, Afghan women’s employment levels fell by an estimated 16 percent in the third quarter of 2021.

Moreover, Women’s employment is expected to be 21 percent lower, than it was before the Taliban takeover by mid-2022 if current conditions continue.

“Based on the ILO’s estimations, thousands of Afghan workers have experienced job losses and reduced working hours due to the economic crisis. Current estimated employment levels are low compared to what they might have been if there had been no change in the government (...) with women disproportionately affected,” the report stressed.

The Taliban will only allow women to work subject to their interpretation of Islamic law, prompting some to leave jobs out of fear of punishment. Hard-won gains in women’s rights over the last two decades have been quickly reversed.

Taliban soldiers in Kabul. Photo: PAP/EPA/STR

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Afghan women are afraid to work

“In the past, we had so much work to do,” Sohaila Noori, a 29-year-old Afghan entrepreneur and founder of a tailoring business in Kabul said.

“We had different types of contracts, we could easily pay a salary to our master tailors and other workers, but currently we have no contracts,” she added, referring to the fact that the tailor used to employ 80 people, now having only 30 employees.

“Mostly, our families are worried about our safety. They repeatedly call us when we do not reach home on time, but we all continue to work (...) because we have economic problems,” one of the women who continue to work at the tailoring business stressed.