Women and Girl’s Secondary Education is in Limbo as the Taliban Announces Only Boys Can Return to School.

In Afghanistan, secondary school has started for kids aged 13-18. The school year began on Saturday and thus far has excluded girls and female teachers from attending. While the classes have been separated by sex, this year, girls were excluded from returning.

A statement from the education ministry said, “All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions.” The Covid-19 pandemic caused schools to suffer multiple closures, and schools have been closed since the Taliban overthrew the government.

The UN said they were “deeply worried” for the future of girl’s schooling in Afghanistan. Unicef said, “It is critical that all girls, including older girls, can resume their education without any further delays. For that, we need female teachers to resume teaching.”

The new Taliban regime does not appear to be softening its approach to women’s rights. Breitbart reports that it seems the regime has shut down the government’s ministry of women’s affairs. It has been replaced with a department to enforce strict religious doctrine and promote virtue. Some women who lost their jobs protested outside the building.

Primary schools, which are similar to American elementary schools, have reopened. The Times reported, “Both boys and girls were “mostly attending separate classes, and some women teachers [are] returning to work.” Women can attend some private universities.

From 1996-2001, the Taliban banned women and girls from attending school, work, speaking in public, and leaving their homes without male accompaniment. When in public, women had to wear a burqa that covered their heads and body. Women were also not allowed to participate in any politics or governance. After the US military withdrew in August, the Afghanistan government fell back into the hands of the Taliban.

The Pakistan government has alluded to wanting a more inclusive environment for women in Afghanistan. Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, said he “has initiated a dialogue with the Taliban for an inclusive Afghanistan government having Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks in it, a day after SCO members sought representation; for all ethnic, religious and political groups in the new dispensation.”

The future of whether women will be allowed back into secondary schools is unknown. There was no mention of women in the education ministry’s statement. According to The Guardian, “The edict makes Afghanistan the only country on earth to bar half its population from getting a secondary education.”

 

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