The foreign ministers of G7 nations Thursday called on the Taliban to reverse their recent decision to bar women from working for national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK, the US and the EU condemned the Taliban’s decision, claiming it “puts at risk millions of Afghans who depend on humanitarian assistance for their survival.”The ministers said women’s role in national and international NGOs are “absolutely central.” The G7 ministers claim that, without women’s assistance, NGOs may be unable to provide humanitarian and basic needs operations to Afghans. NGOs play a large role in providing food, medicine, winterization and other materials and services to Afghanistan’s most vulnerable populations.The statement reads in part:The Taliban continue to demonstrate their contempt for the rights, freedoms, and welfare of the Afghan people, particularly women and girls, and their disinterest in normal relations with the international community.The G7 foreign ministers’ statement comes days after the Taliban’s decision to bar women from national and international NGO jobs on December 24. In an order provided to JURIST by an Afghan source, Taliban Minister of Economy Qari Din Mohammad Hanif claimed women working in NGO positions drew “serious complaints” regarding the “incompliance with the Islamic hijab,” among other things. As a result, NGOs operating within Afghanistan were ordered to immediately put all female employees on leave.The G7 foreign ministers also condemned the Taliban’s move to ban women from universities on December 20, alongside the rest of the international community. Both changes in policy have caused the G7 foreign ministers to join with the UN in urging the Taliban to reinstate women’s rights within the country. Both changes violate the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Under Article 23, all people have the right to “free choice of employment,” and under Article 26, high education should be “equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.”

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