The Taliban appear to have shut down the women’s affairs ministry and replaced it with a department that once enforced strict religious doctrines.
On Friday, the sign at the ministry was removed, and a sign for the ministry of virtue and vice put in its place.
Videos on social media showed women employees outside the offices, urging the Taliban to let them return to work.
During the Taliban rule in the 1990s, the ministry forced strict Islamic rules and harsh restrictions on women.
In the last 20 years Afghan women have fought for and gained a number of basic rights, but there are now fears that progress is being upended by the Taliban’s new all-male interim government.
The BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet, in Kabul, says that while Taliban leaders have made promises that they understand Afghanistan has changed – and that so have they – there seems to be a growing mismatch between promises and policies.
Human rights groups have previously criticised the virtue and vice ministry for silencing dissent, violently enforcing restrictions on citizens – especially women and girls – and spreading fear and distrust throughout communities.
But Taliban members say the institution is important: “The main purpose is to serve Islam. Therefore, it is compulsory to have [a] Ministry of Vice and Virtue,” a Taliban member, Mohammad Yousuf, told the New York Post.