Two-Year Mark of Girls’ Education Ban: Female Students Are Forgotten

On the occasion of the second year mark of the deprivation of education for girls beyond the sixth grade, some Afghan female students and women’s rights activists, especially in countries advocating for human rights, accused the international community of indifference on this matter. Some female students state that despite two years of being deprived of education, they still languish in uncertainty, and the global community should not forget them. They demand the swift reopening of universities and schools to girls beyond the sixth grade.

However, some women’s rights activists express concern that in the past two years, the “conscience of the world” has remained dormant, and instead of pressuring the Taliban, world powers have increased their policy of engagement. Amnesty International also remarks on the two-year ban on the education of girls beyond the sixth grade imposed by the Taliban, stating that the dreams and future of thousands of girls in Afghanistan are at risk. Meanwhile, the Secretary-General of the United Nations has declared that depriving girls of education in Afghanistan constitutes an unjustifiable violation of human rights. He calls for the swift reopening of schools to girls.

Two years ago (on Monday, September 19, 2022), the Taliban closed schools to girls beyond the sixth grade, but with the passage of two years, there has been no action to reopen them. Some female students claim that even after two years of being deprived of their right to education, they remain in uncertainty.

Yalda Frotan, an eleventh-grade student at one of Kabul’s government schools, accuses the international community of being “indifferent” to exerting pressure on the Taliban. Speaking to the Hasht-e Subh Daily, she said, “We have been left out of education for two years, endured sorrow and grief, but no one pays attention to our demands. The global community has only issued statements during this time, but it lacks a serious will to exert pressure on the Taliban.” She added, “Even if schools reopen, how and when will these two years be compensated? For two years, they have allowed a terrorist group to rule and deprived women and girls of all their human and Islamic rights.”

Zainab, a twelfth-grade student at one of Parwan Province’s schools, is also demanding the swift reopening of universities and schools for girls beyond the sixth grade. Zainab told the Hasht-e Subh Daily, “If serious pressure is not exerted on the Taliban, rest assured that just like these past two years, more years will pass, but this group will not open schools and universities. We want the world countries, who always claim to advocate for human rights, to compel the Taliban to lift their restrictions against women and allow us to study.”

Meanwhile, some women’s rights activists, in response to the continued closure of schools to girls beyond the sixth grade, argue that the “conscience of the world” has been dormant for the past two years. Munisa Mobarez, one of the women protesters and women’s rights activists, told the Hasht-e Subh Daily that world countries have increased their “engagement policy” with the Taliban during this time instead of pressuring them. Mobarez emphasized, “Two years have passed since the beginning of a human rights crime against Afghan women. We do not expect anything from the criminal Taliban, but two years of global conscience silence have also passed. Those who advocate for justice and equality and uphold human rights values in the world have remained silent.” She added, “In these two years, the pressure and global action have not gone beyond declarations, and their policy of engagement with the Taliban has grown stronger. The world no longer has the eyes to see the people of Afghanistan, no hearing, and no awakened conscience in their global policies.”

Ms. Mobarez called for the mobilization of the Afghan people against the Taliban. She added, “The other party in this matter is the victimized people and women of Afghanistan. If people want to bring about change from within, there is no way other than mobilizing and launching a national uprising.”

António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, has also commented on the two-year mark of girls’ deprivation of education in Afghanistan, stating that this deprivation is an unjustifiable violation of human rights. On Monday, September 18, 2023, he wrote in a message on X (former Twitter): “This is an unjustifiable violation of human rights that inflicts long-term damage on the entire country. Girls belong in school. Let them back in.”

Simultaneously, Amnesty International, on the occasion of this day, says that the dreams and future of thousands of girls in Afghanistan are at risk. The organization posted on the X platform (former Twitter), stating that after two years of banning girls’ education, the situation has not changed.

The United Nations “Education Cannot Wait (ECW)” fund continues to call on the Taliban to lift restrictions on girls’ education. In a statement, the fund declared that 80% of Afghan girls, totaling 2.5 million individuals, have been deprived of education. Amnesty International has stated that from 2001 to 2021, millions of girls in Afghanistan attended schools, nurturing dreams of becoming doctors, teachers, journalists, scientists, and specialists in their fields.

However, the organization has noted that today, due to Afghanistan being the only country in the world denying girls the right to education beyond primary school, these girls are forced to stay at home. Amnesty International has emphasized that despite their promises, the Taliban continue to deprive girls of their right to education and subject them to ongoing sexual harassment and abuse. The organization demands accountability from the Taliban regarding their denial of girls’ right to education.

Although Taliban officials have consistently claimed that restrictions on girls’ education are temporary, after two years of closing girls’ schools, they have not announced a precise date for lifting these restrictions. Sirajuddin Haqqani, the acting interior minister of the Taliban, and Neda Mohammad Nadeem, the acting minister of higher education, stated in recent interviews on the Taliban-controlled national television (RTA) that the removal of the ban on girls’ education would take time and urged people to be patient.

Nevertheless, the final decision-maker regarding the approximately 50 decrees that have confined women and girls to their homes and banned them from public spaces is the hardline Taliban supreme leader in Kandahar province. So far, he has not reversed any of these directives.