Daniela Owen, director of the World Food Programme (WFP) sub-office in Herat, near the Afghanistan border, says that the Taliban’s decree forbidding most women from working outside their homes is obstructing WFP work. Owen said, “The Taliban are not letting our staff monitor our projects.”
Although the WFP staff members revised their work methods so that they could work from home, they cannot continue the necessary house-to-house surveys needed to determine who needs food. Owen said that the agency also needs to hire more women who speak the local Pushtu language.
“It is a problem finding women to work under these conditions,” said Owen. “There is pressure from the community - neighbors will tell you ‘you will go to jail’. So there is cultural pressure. And nobody knows who is a Taliban informer and who is not.”
WFP members had considered hiring other Pushtu-speaking Muslim women to monitor projects and hunger needs, but are unable to since the Taliban’s recent verdict requiring all foreign Muslim women to be accompanied by a husband, father, brother or son while in public.
The non-governmental agency OxFam left Kabul after being told by the Taliban that their projects could not involve women.