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Protesters march through the Dashti-E-Barchi neighborhood in Kabul, a day after the Taliban announced its new all-men interim government with no representation for women and ethnic minority groups. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Taliban on Friday rebranded Afghanistan's women's ministry with the "Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," Reuters reports.

Why it matters: When the Taliban was last in power, it maintained severe rules limiting girls' and women's autonomy, and barred them from education and work.

  • During that period, its Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice operated as the Taliban's moral police, enforcing a rigid interpretation of sharia that included a strict dress code, forced confinement, public executions and floggings.

What's happening now: Women employees had been showing up for work for several weeks, but were repeatedly told to return home and locked out of the building, per Reuters.

  • The Taliban has said that women will not be allowed to work in government ministries alongside men.
  • Though the group said women in Afghanistan can continue with their university studies, classes must now be segregated and head coverings are mandatory. The Taliban has ordered secondary school classes for boys to resume on Saturday, but made no mention of the future of girls’ education in the notice, according to The Guardian.
  • "I am the only breadwinner in my family," a woman who said she worked in the department told Reuters. "When there is no ministry, what should an Afghan woman do?"

The big picture: Since the Taliban's declaration of victory in Afghanistan, Afghan women and girls have faced an uncertain future. Under the Taliban's control, they stand to lose hard-won rights to education, employment and everyday freedoms.

  • Zarifa Ghafari, Afghanistan’s youngest mayor and the first female mayor of Maidan Sharh province, told iNews that the Taliban "will come for people like me and kill me."
  • Earlier this month, Taliban special forces used tear gas, rifle butts and metal clubs to break up a protest in Kabul led by Afghan women demanding equal rights.
  • The UN has called on President Biden to assist with the deteriorating situation. "[T]he country has entered a new and perilous phase, with many Afghans profoundly concerned for their human rights, particularly women, ethnic and religious communities," UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned this week.

Go deeper

22 hours ago - World

WHO, UNICEF to launch polio vaccine drive in Afghanistan

Afghan boys return to their homes after attending school in Chashma Dozak area of Badghis province on Oct. 16. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will launch a house-to-house vaccination campaign to inoculate children in Afghanistan against polio, the UN announced Monday.

Why it matters: The campaign, which begins Nov. 8 with the Taliban's backing, is the first such vaccine drive in over three years to reach all Afghan children, the press release noted.

21 hours ago - Technology

Tarika Barrett: U.S. tech industry must become "more equitable"

Photo: Axios

The technology industry must become more equitable if it intends to solve its diversity problem, Tarika Barrett, CEO of Girls Who Code, said at an Axios virtual event on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Tech companies in the United States face a national reckoning on the lack of diversity in their workforce, with Black representation across Google, Facebook and Microsoft making up less than 7% of the workforce.

2 hours ago - Health

White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11

Charles Muro, 13, is inoculated at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday released its plan to vaccinate children between the ages of five and 11, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration of the first COVID-19 shot for that age group.

The big picture: The White House said it has secured enough vaccine supply to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies, to administer the shots.