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Female employment in Afghanistan has fallen by a quarter since the Taliban returned to power, according to estimates by the International Labor Organization (ILO), which noted that the decline was exacerbated by restrictions on women working and who are studying.

A 25% decline in female employment was recorded from the second quarter of 2021 to the last quarter of 2022, compared to a 7% decline in male employment, the International Labor Organization noted. The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in August 2021 when foreign forces withdrew.

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“Restrictions on girls and women have serious implications for their education and labor market prospects,” notes Ramin Behzad, the ILO’s senior coordinator for Afghanistan in a statement accompanying its 2022 Afghanistan assessment.

Taliban authorities have excluded most girls from secondary education, stopped women from attending universities, and stopped most women from working in non-governmental organizations.

Afghanistan’s economy has also plunged into crisis resulting in job losses. After the Taliban’s recent seizure of power, foreign governments suspended development aid and froze the country’s central bank.

The ILO estimates that the country’s GDP shrank by 30-35% in 2021 and 2022.

Taliban officials are asking the international community to lift an asset freeze to ease the country’s liquidity crisis and say they are focusing on encouraging trade and investment to build economic self-sufficiency.

Youth unemployment also fell by an estimated 25% for those aged between 15 and 24. The ILO notes that overall employment shows some signs of recovery in the first half of 2022, but underlines that it has fallen for young people men and for all women during the year.

“Some women moved into self-employment activities such as farming (…) or mending clothes, thereby contributing to household income and preventing women’s employment from falling further,” the ILO concluded in its report.