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EMERGENCY NGO Statement: Employment of Afghan Women

EMERGENCY is determined to continue its work in Afghanistan, but is extremely concerned following the announcement by the Afghan Ministry of Economy that domestic and international NGOs will no longer be able to employ Afghan women. This is the latest in a series of policies that undermine women’s rights, and reduce the role of women in public life – from education to employment.

We urge the authorities to reconsider this decision and permit women to continue contributing to their country’s development.

EMERGENCY has provided free, high-quality healthcare to over 8 million people in Afghanistan since 1999, and currently runs three hospitals and 42 First Aid Posts across the country.

EMERGENCY’s Anabah Maternity Centre is entirely staffed by women and has provided antenatal care, deliveries and postnatal care for mothers and children since 2003, overseeing over 470,000 outpatient consultations, 97,000 admissions and over 73,000 births.

This facility has contributed to the reduction of maternal and child mortality in one of the most difficult parts of the country. This centre employs 114 midwives and gynaecologists. The gynaecology specialisation school at the centre is currently training 12 female medical professionals.

EMERGENCY is proud to train and employ Afghan people in all its facilities and 21% of local colleagues are female. Afghan women are a crucial part of our team, and they allow us to guarantee services to female patients who would otherwise risk being excluded from healthcare without them. The Afghan women that work with EMERGENCY are not only crucial staff members, but play an important role supporting their families and communities.

Any attempt to prohibit the employment of Afghan women will have a major effect on our ability to provide healthcare, and specifically harm activities that are focused towards women and children, including crucial maternity, gynaecological and paediatric care.

EMERGENCY has always demonstrated sensitivity towards cultural differences when working in Afghanistan. We are committed to continue our operations as long as we are able to provide assistance to all people in need without any discrimination and to maintain our independence.

EMERGENCY’s facilities have so far continued to operate as normal, with our female Afghan colleagues continuing their work.

We are in the process of understanding the ramifications of this policy, any exemption of the healthcare sector, and its impact on our activities.