Escalating Restrictions: The Bleak Fate Imposed by the Taliban on Female Graduates

By: Behnia

The Taliban’s restrictions and the economic downturn caused by investors withdrawing from Afghanistan have resulted in a significant social problem: high unemployment rates among educated youth. Since the group seized control, millions of educated young people have found themselves without jobs. Consequently, many have resorted to illegal means to migrate to different countries in search of livelihoods. Educated girls who remain in Afghanistan are particularly affected, facing a dearth of opportunities under Taliban rule. Despite submitting numerous applications to governmental and non-governmental organizations, they have been unsuccessful in securing employment. Meanwhile, the Taliban has imposed strict limitations on women’s involvement in social activities, confining them to seclusion. It’s important to note that, currently, women are only permitted to work in the healthcare and education sectors, with other fields off-limits to them.

Zahra, a computer science graduate from Kabul Polytechnic University, finished her studies two years ago, just as the Taliban assumed control. Despite her persistent efforts, she has been unable to secure employment, despite submitting multiple job applications to both private organizations and government departments. Zahra shares her frustrations, stating, “I have applied for numerous positions across various organizations more than a hundred times, yet I have never received a positive response. I have reached out to offices and organizations repeatedly, but it seems that my gender may have been a factor in not being shortlisted.”

After the Taliban imposed a ban on women’s employment in various government institutions, she lost all hope and, despite her field of study, started applying for teaching positions at several private schools in Kabul to secure a source of income. Unfortunately, her efforts were halted due to the Taliban’s closure of girls’ schools. This situation has left her deeply disheartened, leading her to regret pursuing her education. Zahra explains, “I applied to multiple schools, but many of them lacked sufficient budget to pay their teachers. Consequently, my applications were consistently rejected until one school finally responded positively. They informed me that if the Taliban permits girls to attend school, my name will be on the list to become a teacher there.”

Sadaf, another female graduate, completed her studies at Kabul University’s Faculty of Fine Arts last year. Despite her efforts, she has been unable to secure employment in either artistic or non-artistic institutions for over a year. According to her, the Taliban’s view of art as contrary to their beliefs and a crime makes it impossible for her to find work in her field. She expresses her concerns, stating, “The environment for preserving art and engaging in artistic activities in Afghanistan is bleak and destructive. All artists, myself included, worry about our future careers in this situation. Not only is my work considered a crime, but the Taliban also obstructs the process of obtaining my graduation documents and prevents me from seeking employment in another country to escape their control permanently.”

Tamanna, an economics graduate, highlights that girls lack the freedom to select their field of study under Taliban rule. According to her, if these girls deviate from the sectors mandated by the group, they will encounter challenges similar to her own. She emphasizes, “The Taliban generally doubt women’s abilities in various domains and are unwilling to see women in any sector. Recognizing my skills and contributions is beyond the scope of the Taliban’s mindset and values.”

Furthermore, it is not only female graduates who express dissatisfaction with unemployment and rejection from various organizations, particularly those operating under Taliban control. Male graduates also face frustration, as they encounter limited job prospects and marginalization by the current authorities. They harbor disillusionment regarding their future careers under Taliban rule. Many of these young individuals resort to risky migration paths in an attempt to escape such an environment, while others turn to tobacco consumption as a consequence of joblessness and mounting frustration.

In the meantime, university professors identify the neglect of university graduates as a contributing factor to future societal issues. According to Abdul Qahar Javad, a professor at Kabul University, if any government fails to address the aspirations of the youth, particularly the educated class, due to reasons such as deteriorating conditions, economic recession, and limited educational opportunities, it will divert the positive energy of the youth towards negativity. Javad urges the Taliban regime to harness the potential of the youth for the betterment of society and protect them from becoming victims. He emphasizes, “Youth inherently possess strength, energy, and talent. It depends on how governments channel this energy in any given situation. If the energy of the youth is not channeled towards constructive endeavors, personal and societal well-being, and prosperity, the consequences will be perilous for both the government and the people.”

It is important to note that the Taliban authorities have repeatedly stressed the significance of the youth in driving progress and have urged them to remain in the country. However, these assurances have gone unfulfilled, and women have been entirely marginalized from society. This is occurring against the backdrop of a sharp increase in the unemployment rate with the rise of the Taliban group, leading to the termination of activities by numerous organizations in Afghanistan.