Save the Children U.S. President & CEO Janti Soeripto speaks at United Nations press briefing on the situation in Afghanistan. Photo credit: The United Nations
Save the Children CEO: “If the ban isn’t reversed, the consequences will be disastrous”
Remarks by Save the Children U.S. President and CEO Janti Soeripto, U.N. Press Briefing on Afghanistan
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Jan. 30, 2023) —Thank you all for being here.
This week, I had the privilege to speak with local communities and NGOs – Afghan women and men. Their message was clear: they want us to restart the work, resume classes, continue to provide healthcare and support children who are working on the street or in factories. Women’s intent to work, their resilience and their perseverance was evident, with one partner telling us that “Afghan women will always work, no matter what anyone says.”
Meeting with local NGOs – many of them women-led – overwhelmingly solidifies our message to the Taliban: completely reverse the ban and allow NGOs like Save the Children and others to fully resume activities with our male and female staff.
Afghan women and men want this reversal, too. We heard them explicitly say it. Not only is a reversal what Afghan women want, but it’s what Afghanistan, as a country – its present and its future – needs. If the ban isn’t reversed, the consequences for the people of Afghanistan will be disastrous.
The humanitarian costs are significant. Without women, we cannot provide the needed humanitarian services to millions of women and children. We will not be able to identify their needs or communicate with female-headed households in a safe, culturally appropriate and sensitive way.
Economic costs are significant, too. Women account for an estimated 30% of the 55,000 Afghans working in NGOs across the country. Many of them are sole breadwinners. No work means no money.
Afghan women want to work. They want to get back to helping their country, where 28 million people need assistance to survive, 6 million of them on the brink of famine. Humanitarian aid must never be conditional and it cannot discriminate. We simply cannot do this work without women.
We are all here to tell you that Afghanistan is in dire need of assistance. As my colleagues alongside me have mentioned, there has been some progress in discussions with the Taliban. Aid workers on the ground are continuing these discussions across different provinces to resume work with women so they can continue to provide the assistance desperately needed at this time. But we need the international community’s support, too.
Donor countries must continue to support a unified, principled humanitarian response that includes both men and women, and refrain from any commitments to reduce or freeze much needed flexible funding to Afghanistan.
We need the international community to stand by and not give up hope. We must stand with the people – especially the women and girls – of Afghanistan, and donor countries must engage in meaningful dialogue with the Taliban before it’s too late.
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