Many female city employees in Kabul were told by the Taliban not to return to work, bolstering fears that the gains made by women in Afghanistan over the last two decades may be stripped away under the new regime, The Washington Post reported.
The female employees told not to return did not include those working in education and health, said Neamatullah Barakzai, the Kabul head of public awareness, according to the Post. The government will reportedly continue to pay their wages as officials determine a work policy for women.
Last month, the interim mayor for the city said that only women who had jobs that could not be replaced by men could return to work.
The comments are a far cry from what the Taliban had promised earlier this year, claiming that women could pursue career paths and education, things that were previously out of reach when the military group controlled the country in the 1990s. The Taliban have also pledged to recognize the rights of women under their Islamic framework.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told NBC News in late August, amid the final days of the United States’s withdrawal, that women could be “doctors, teachers, be educated and can work to benefit society.”
“They are our sisters, we must show them respect. They should not be frightened. The Taliban are humans and from this country. They fought for our country. Women should be proud of us, not scared,” he added.
Taliban acting Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi said on Wednesday as Moscow hosted talks with the Taliban and other nations that passport offices and police stations would continue to employ women, according to the Post.
Updated at 9:40 p.m.