The Taliban administration on Saturday ordered all local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to stop their female employees from coming to work, according to a letter by the Ministry of Economy sent to all licensed NGOs.  Non-compliance will result in revoking the licenses of said NGOs.

TOLOnews says the Ministry of Economy in a statement released on Saturday ordered all local and international non-government organizations to suspend their female staff members until the next announcement.

The ministry reportedly warned that if any organization to which it has issued a license, does not implement the order, its license will be revoked.

The Islamist rulers justified the move by saying female NGO staff had broken dress codes by not wearing hijabs.

“Lately there have been serious complaints regarding not observing the Islamic hijab and other Islamic Emirate’s laws and regulations,” the statement said, adding that as a result “guidance is given to suspend work of all female employees of national and international non-governmental organizations.”

The decree comes just days after female students were banned from universities.

CNN says the new restrictions mark yet another step in the Taliban’s brutal crackdown on the freedoms of Afghan women, following the hardline Islamist group’s takeover of the country in August 2021.

The move has sparked international outrage. 

Amnesty International said on Twitter that the latest order by “the Taliban Ministry of Economy suspending all female employees of national and international NGOs in Afghanistan is yet another deplorable attempt to erase women from the political, social and economic spaces.”

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in its statement that the UN office in Afghanistan and its partners condemn the decision of the Islamic Emirate to suspend women's jobs in local and international non-government organizations.

UN agencies have a significant presence in the country, carrying out relief and development work. An urgent meeting of the Humanitarian Country Team was planned for Sunday to respond to the news.

According to the BBC, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was deeply concerned, adding that it "will disrupt vital and life-saving assistance to millions".

"Women are central to humanitarian operations around the world.  This decision could be devastating for the Afghan people," Mr. Blinken said.