Washington D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley—a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and strong defender of women’s rights and opportunity—issued the following statement sounding the alarm on the Taliban’s recent decision to remove women from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and to suspend access to higher education and secondary school for women and girls in Afghanistan:
“Discrimination by the Taliban against women is a horrible human rights violation. The Taliban’s decision to ban women from humanitarian work and to suspend Afghan women and girls’ access to universities and secondary schools is deeply troubling and demands immediate global attention.
“Women are critical to humanitarian operations all around the world, and the need for women NGO workers in Afghanistan is even more critical. Millions of Afghans depend on humanitarian assistance for their survival. This ban on women will severely limit the operations of many NGOs and humanitarian organizations, threatening the aid that Afghan families rely on for basic sustenance. Women must continue to work at these NGOs with full, meaningful, and equal participation.
“The strength of a country comes from the strength of its people, and the Taliban’s oppressive measures against Afghan girls and women make clear their utter disregard for human rights and the fundamental freedoms of the people of Afghanistan. By barring women from universities and places of work, banning women and girls from public spaces and requiring male custodianship, Afghanistan’s economy will continue to crumble and its social fabric will continue to erode.
“I stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan—especially the women and girls—in demanding their fundamental freedoms and rights. The Taliban must reverse this dangerous decision immediately, end the ban on Afghan women working at NGOs, and re-open the doors of higher education and secondary school to female students.”