Taliban Ban On Women Education | Teen Ink

Taliban Ban On Women Education

June 16, 2023
By Diva BRONZE, Gurugram, Other
Diva BRONZE, Gurugram, Other
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

On 20 December 2022, the Taliban issued a ban on university education for women in Afghanistan, just months after they appeared for their high school graduation and university entrance exams, leading to tears of both sorrow and rage. 

This is not the first time that the Taliban has interfered with women and their right to education. Earlier, when the Taliban occupied Afghanistan and reestablished their government in 2021, many girls from grades 6 and up were barred from schools, leading to an increase in the intake of antidepressants among the female population. Afghan pharmacist Mohammed Mohibullah said, “what I’m noticing now is a sharp rise in women asking for antidepressants, stress relievers, or sleeping pills, even without a specific prescription. They are under a lot of pressure. While many men tell me they feel more at ease compared to before, it is the opposite for women and girls”. On March 21, 2022, the Taliban released a statement saying that girls of all ages would be allowed back to school. However, as many girls made their way back to their educational institutes, they were sent back after learning the Ministry of Education had reversed their verdict. 

The Minister of Higher Education and Taliban member, Mullah Neda Mohammad Nadeem, defended the ban on university education for women by announcing “women students had ignored Islamic instructions,” and “We told girls to have proper hijab but they didn’t and they wore dresses like they are going to a wedding ceremony.” A similar explanation was given by the Afghan Ministry of Economy when they banned women from working in NGOs days after the ban on university education. The decision came in the form of a letter to both national and international NGOs, threatening to cancel their licenses if they did not immediately comply. On 29 December 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Office denounced the Taliban for barring women from working in national and international NGOs by saying that this decision “will further push women out of jobs and completely erase them from the public sphere” and “will have catastrophic effects on tens of millions of Afghan people in need of humanitarian assistance”.

Women have been banned from studying subjects such as engineering, economics, veterinary science, and agriculture, with journalism being severely restricted, saying that they “do not match the dignity and honour of female students and also Afghan culture”. 

Many male students at Nangarhar university walked out in support of women while in the middle of an exam, and around 60 professors working across multiple universities resigned from their jobs after the Taliban’s diktat, leading to the potential collapse of 35 Afghan universities. 

Following the ban on women’s education, multiple protests took place, with dozens of women holding up posters and banging on university gates. Protests, specifically women-led, have been exponentially rare since the Taliban took power, with participants facing the risk of violence and arrest along with definite social stigma. Several women have claimed to have been “beaten badly” by female officers and said many of the girls had been taken into custody, with only 2 being released. A female protestor told Amnesty International, “There was no court, no charges and no due process; we were abducted from the streets, kept in a private jail for several days during which we had no access to our family, lawyer or any other official… Some of the women and girls who were with me in the same room never returned and none of us knew what happened to them”.

Multiple countries have condemned the Taliban for their decision. Whitehouse National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said, “the Taliban will be further alienated from the international community and denied the legitimacy they desire”. Multiple Muslim countries have urged the Taliban to reverse their decision. The Qatari foreign ministry expressed “deep concern and disappointment” following the ban. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warned “The world is watching. We will judge the Taliban by their actions”. 

Not only does this diktat blatantly violate the right to education for women across Afghanistan, but according to a United Nations Development Programme report, it also costs the Afghan economy $1 billion or 5% of their GDP. Analyst Ibraheem Bahiss says the Taliban is making it “very difficult for countries that want to take steps to address Afghanistan’s economic crisis and work in constructive ways with the country.” 

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