The Taliban’s policies barring women not only from access to the job market but also from leaving homes unaccompanied by a mahram guardian are coming into fruition as the latest International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates show female employment in Afghanistan has dropped by a quarter after the fundamentalist Islamists took over the country in August 2021.
“Restrictions on girls and women have severe implications for their education and labor market prospects,” said Ramin Behzad, the Senior Coordinator for Afghanistan at the ILO, in a statement accompanying its assessment for 2022 of Afghanistan.
Afghan women under Taliban rule have been barred from attending universities, most female NGO workers have been forced to work from home and girls have not been allowed to attend high school.
Despite the adverse effects of Taliban policies, Afghan women showed great resourcefulness in staying employed.
“Some women moved into self-employed activities, such as farming…or repairing clothes, thereby contributing to household income and preventing female employment from falling by even more,” the ILO’s report said.
The Taliban authorities have devastated Afghanistan’s economy and rendered it nearly void of jobs. Following the takeover, foreign governments withdrew development aid and froze the country’s central bank assets.
According to ILO estimates, Afghanistan’s GDP had contracted by 30-35 percent across 2021 and 2022.
Calling on the international community to unfreeze Afghan assets to ease the country’s liquidity predicament, Taliban officials have said they are focused on encouraging trade and investment to create economic self-sufficiency.