Taliban orders ban on university education for women in Afghanistan

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key points
  • Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have suspended women from attending university until further notice.
  • The United Nations has expressed its deep concerns for the future of women’s rights in Afghanistan.
  • Female students say they are devastated by the Taliban’s decision, as their futures become uncertain.
Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have ordered a nationwide suspension of university education for women.
The Taliban’s higher education minister Neda Mohammad Nadeem issued a letter on Tuesday to all government and private universities (local time) to implement the suspension immediately.

“You all are informed to immediately implement the mentioned order of suspending education of females until further notice,” the letter read, signed by Mr Nadeem.

Upon the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, university classes became gender-segregated. Source: Getty / Aamir Qureshi

The spokesperson for the ministry, Ziaullah Hashimi, who tweeted the letter, confirmed the order in a text message to news agency AFP.

Despite promising a softer rule when they seized power last year, , ignoring international outrage.

The universities are currently on winter break and are due to reopen in March.

Washington condemned the decision “in the strongest terms.”
“The Taliban should expect that this decision, which is in contravention to the commitments they have made repeatedly and publicly to their own people, will carry concrete costs for them,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington.
After the takeover of the country by the Taliban, universities were ordered to implement new rules including gender-segregated classrooms and entrances, while women were only permitted to be taught by women professors or old men.
Most teenage girls across the country have already been banned from secondary school education, severely limiting university intake.
Journalism student Madina, who wanted only her first name published, struggled to comprehend the weight of Tuesday’s order.
“I have nothing to say. Not only me but all my friends have no words to express our feelings,” the 18-year-old told AFP in Kabul.

“Everyone is thinking about the unknown future ahead of them. They buried our dreams.”

The country was returning to “dark days”, added medicine student Rhea in the capital, who asked that her name be changed.

“When we were hoping to make progress, they are removing us from the society,” the 26-year-old said.

‘A fundamental human right’

The United Nations is “deeply concerned” by the order, said Ramiz Alakbarov, UN chief’s deputy special representative for Afghanistan.

“Education is a fundamental human right. A door closed to women’s education is a door closed to the future of Afghanistan,” he tweeted.

The Taliban in March on the morning they were supposed to reopen.
Several Taliban officials say the secondary education ban is only temporary, but they have also wheeled out a litany of excuses for the closure – from a lack of funds to the time needed to remodel the syllabus along Islamic lines.
Women have also been pushed out of many government jobs – or are being paid a slashed salary to stay at home. They are also barred from travelling without a male relative and must cover themselves outside the house, ideally with a burqa.
In November they were also prohibited from going to parks, funfairs, gyms and public baths.
In the 20 years between the Taliban’s two reigns, girls were allowed to go to school and women could seek employment in all sectors, though the country remained socially conservative.
since the Taliban returned to power following the hasty withdrawal of US-led foreign forces last August.

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