Afghan Girls Must Have Access to Education

Afghan girls have been out of school for almost two months now. The Taliban have directly or indirectly deprived them of an equal chance to education for the past 30 years. Now, as they did in the 1990s, under the pretext of security restrictions and logistical issues, they are depriving girls of education, which is in no way acceptable to anyone.

Although the Taliban have not formally opposed the girls’ education, in practice, however, they have indicated that ideologically and politically, girls’ education is not bearable for them, specifically in the upper secondary levels. The Taliban typically justify their policies by referring to religious principles. However, the fact is that no Islamic country has denied the rights of girls to education. Even in the very conservative countries of the Persian Gulf, where women are more restricted than in other Islamic countries such as Indonesia and Pakistan, girls can continue their education up to higher levels.

The space chief behind the United Arab Emirates’ mission to Mars is a young woman named Sara Al-Amiri. She is also the Minister of the State for Advanced Technology within the UAE’s Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, chair of the UAE Space Agency and the UAE Council of Scientists.

Indeed, security is key to sustainable education, but the Taliban in the current situation cannot prevent girls from studying under the pretext of security issues. If male students are safe to go to school, girls have certainly no problem attending their classes. The Taliban have always declared that one of their achievements is providing Afghanistan with security; But why is the security situation not favorable when it comes to girls’ education?

The Taliban have not even allowed the reopening of the all-girls’ schools, where the teachers and staff are all women.

The Taliban, who have risen to power after 20 years of armed conflicts and now wish to normalize their relationship with the international community, cannot pursue a vague and discriminatory policy toward girls’ education. The normalization of relations and coexistence with the world requires adherence to the minimum international principles and fundamental human rights. The rights of girls and women to education and job opportunity is an issue that no one would ignore.

The fact is that our world will be a safer, more prosperous and more humane place with educated girls. All studies by credible sources indicate that higher education plays a major role not only in improving the living conditions of girls but also in their communities. Research by global institutions shows that educating girls contributes to addressing poverty in poor countries like Afghanistan. Educated women in developing societies help to maintain a productive, committed, professional, and effective workforce.

Afghanistan’s experience over the past 20 years has shown us that large Afghan families can only get out of poverty by relying on the productivity of both men and women. While there is no way to deny the impending poverty and declining families’ incomes in Afghanistan, the Taliban’s decision to restrict women and girls doubles the suffering of the people of Afghanistan. The children of working women in the families, in particular, bear the brunt of poverty and deprivation the most.

A hungry city is a problem for Afghanistan, but a hungry country is a problem for the world. No human being in the world, including in Afghanistan and Islamic countries, will remain apathetic to the policies that make Afghanistan hungrier.

The Taliban expect the international community to listen to them and reach out to them in this difficult time. For this reason, Taliban representatives even went to Doha for talks with the US delegation. If the Taliban are too eager to portray a tolerable group to the international community, especially the West, they must also avoid harmful domestic performance. Closing schools to girls and delaying their education is not justified at all. This will undoubtedly have a devastating impact on Afghanistan’s development and prosperity. Afghanistan’s progress, prosperity and reputation depend on the government and its educated citizens, which unfortunately the Taliban’s policy of educational and work discrimination deprives Afghanistan of such an opportunity forever.