Afghanistan's supreme leader and Taliban chief has today ordered the country's women to wear the all-covering burqa in public.

It is one of the harshest controls imposed on women's lives since the hardline Islamists seized power.

"They should wear a chadori (head-to-toe burqa) as it is traditional and respectful," said a decree issued by Hibatullah Akhundzada that was released by Taliban authorities at a function in Kabul.

Earlier this month, officials in Afghanistan's most progressive city Herat told driving instructors to stop issuing licences to women.

"We have been verbally instructed to stop issuing licences to women drivers ... but not directed to stop women from driving in the city," said Jan Agha Achakzai, the head of Herat's Traffic Management Institute that oversees driving schools.

Last March, the Taliban ordered girls' secondary schools in Afghanistan to shut just hours after they reopened.

The U-turn was announced after thousands of girls resumed lessons for the first time since August, when the group seized control of the country and imposed harsh restrictions on women.

About two dozen girls and women chanting "open the schools" protested in the Afghan capital following the decision.

The Taliban have also reportedly told airlines in Afghanistan that women cannot board domestic or international flights without a male chaperone.

The international community has so far not officially recognised the Taliban administration.

Enforcement of sanctions has crippled the country's banking sector which combined with slashed development funding has plunged Afghanistan into a humanitarian crisis.

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