Afghanistan: ICRC deeply concerned for millions of women and girls

25 December 2022

Kabul (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is concerned by the recent announcement of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) suspending with immediate effect the women's rights to study higher education curriculums and to work with national and international non-governmental organizations across the country.

The exclusion of women and girls from the education system at all levels and potentially from their essential humanitarian roles can and will lead to catastrophic humanitarian consequences in the short to long term.

The ICRC in Afghanistan employs hundreds of women. Humanitarian work in Afghanistan and around the world is only possible thanks to the efforts of all staff, including women. Questioning the full inclusion and participation of women in operations would jeopardize the whole humanitarian action.

The ICRC is particularly concerned about the future of the Afghan healthcare system and its female patients. Since November 2021, the ICRC has been supporting 45 health structures including hospitals and medical schools, with a total capacity of 7057 beds serving an estimated population of 26 million people. This support includes the payment of the running costs, medical consumables and the salaries of 10,483 health workers (around one third - 33% - of which are women). This support is ongoing and discussions are currently taking place with relevant authorities regarding the impact the recent decision might have on it.

It is clear that if women are no longer able to complete their health studies, in different specialties, it will have an even more severe impact on the delivery of healthcare services across Afghanistan, putting millions of lives at risk.

At a time at which more than half the population (over 24 million people) is in need of humanitarian assistance, we urge the IEA authorities to consider the impact of the recent announcement on the population and to find a solution that will enable all humanitarian actors, to continue delivering life-saving assistance to millions of Afghans.

For more information, please contact:
Lucien Christen, ICRC Kabul,, +93 729 140 551 (WhatsApp & Signal)
Parwiz Ahmad Faizi, ICRC Kabul, +93 729 110 672