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UN Afghan Envoy Makes Urgent Plea For Taliban To Lift Recent Restrictions On Women

By RFE/RL's Radio Azadi January 07, 2023

The deputy head of the United Nations aid office in Afghanistan has called for the Taliban to immediately lift bans on women attending university and working for nongovernmental organizations after a meeting with the Taliban-led government's minister of higher education.

Markus Potzel, the UN envoy, was the first international official to meet with Minister of Higher Education Nida Mohammad Nadim since the ban on higher education for women was introduced last month.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said on Twitter after the meeting that Afghanistan is entering a new period of crisis.

"Taliban bans on female education & work for aid agencies will harm all Afghans," the mission said, adding that Potzel had called for the urgent lifting of the bans during the meeting on January 7.

Taliban authorities on December 20 ordered public and private universities to close their doors to women immediately until further notice.

A few days later the country's Taliban rulers ordered all domestic and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to prevent female employees from working at their jobs.

The bans are the latest measures rolling back women's rights and triggered widespread international condemnation and efforts by the UNAMA to reverse them.

Nadim has defended the ban on women's higher education, saying it is necessary to prevent the mixing of genders in universities and because he believes some subjects violate Islamic principles.

According to him, the ban on women's education and work harms all Afghans.

The Taliban claimed that the ban on women working for NGO was necessary because many women were not observing dress codes.

Nadim told Potzel the ministry was working for the development and improvement of Afghans while protecting Islamic and national values, according to information shared by ministry spokesman Ziaullah Hashmi.

Opponents of the ban on women's education are using it as an argument to achieve their "evil goals," he said, according to AP.

Hashmi also said Afghanistan's rulers will not accept demands in the form of pressure against Islamic principles.

Potzel told Nadim that higher education within any country has a direct impact on the country's economic situation, according to the ministry spokesman's statement quoted by the AP.

The envoy promised to cooperate in the development of Afghanistan's higher education and shared his plan for female education with Nadim.

Potzel has previously met with Taliban officials to discuss the ban on women working at NGOs, which prompted foreign aid groups to suspend their operations in Afghanistan.

The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven developed countries and several other Western democracies last week called on Afghanistan's Taliban rulers to reverse the ban.

Potzel's meeting with Nadim came ahead of a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council about Afghanistan scheduled to take place on January 13.

With reporting by AP

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/afghanistan-un-meeting-women- bans/32213626.html

Copyright (c) 2023. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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