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Taliban Bans University Education for Women in Afghanistan

The latest decision to forbid women from pursuing higher education in Afghanistan is a setback for everyone impacted, as it further deflates what little optimism there is for development in the nation. People were hopeful that a different Ministry of Education directive from March, which barred girls from attending state-run secondary schools, would be overturned at the time the order was announced.

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The fact that half of the people have their right to education suspended is a prime example of how Afghanistan can be negatively impacted by the internal tug-of-war between warring Taliban factions. These most recent restrictions on women’s participation in Afghan society are, in fact, just the most recent results of the regrettable rivalry between Taliban members who understand “where the shoe pinches” and have considered the complexities of the 20-year conflict and those who are cut off from the realities of the people and are unable to see past perceived ideological gains. 

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Members of the latter group appear to be winning for the time being. However, continuing along their chosen course will result in escalating internal conflict, increased isolation, and ultimately the dissolution of the state rather than a prosperous and powerful Afghanistan.

Nida Mohammad Nadim, the minister of higher education for Afghanistan, attempted to justify the Taliban’s ban on women attending universities by citing alleged logistical problems, such as restrictions on gender segregation on campus and assertions that women do not follow the Taliban’s preferred dress code while attending classes. He gave identical justifications as when the March decree closing female secondary schools were issued, but this time he also managed to offend Afghan women and their families nationwide by implying that they are acting “improperly” when seeking education and jobs outside of their homes.

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The secondary schools will remain closed only until “a plan was made up in conformity with Islamic law and Afghan culture,” the authorities had stated in March. Nearly a year later, there is still no indication that any policies are being implemented to deal with the problem. People across the nation have begun to doubt the Taliban’s sincerity in their stated concerns and considerations for women’s education as a result of their apparent lack of interest in finding a way to reopen secondary schools and the most recent edict further restricting opportunities for female education.

Taliban leaders must reconsider their actions because they will surely affect Afghan women and the Afghan people as a whole. Women are an essential component of Afghan labor, and Afghanistan’s future depends on them. 

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Afghan Women in the Workforce 1960s
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Afghan Women in the Military


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