Afghanistan’s universities reopened today after the winter break, but only men returned to the institutions, with the Taliban’s ban on women in higher education still in force, according to a report in Al-Jazeera.
The decision to ban women from educational institutions was announced by Taliban officials in December and drew widespread condemnation from foreign governments and the United Nations.
In a letter issued to all government and private universities last year, Higher Education Minister Neda Mohammed Nadeem said, “You are all hereby informed to immediately implement the mentioned order suspending the education of girls till further notice.”
Taliban officials were told by the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan to have an “immediate” option to withdraw. However, nothing much was achieved from this.
The Taliban enforced the ban, claiming that female students flouted a strict dress code and were required to be escorted to and from university campuses by a male relative. According to the outlet, most colleges and universities already had gender-specific entrances, classrooms and policies allowing only older men or female professors to teach female students.
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As Al-Jazeera reports, Taliban officials have cited a variety of reasons for the closure, ranging from lack of funds to the time needed to remodel the curriculum according to Islamic principles. Islamic experts and scholars who advise Afghanistan’s supreme leader Haibatullah Akhunzada are “deeply skeptical” of modern education for women, news agency AFP quoted Taliban members as saying.
The university ban is one of several restrictions imposed on women since the Taliban regime took back control in August 2021. Women in the country are also banned from visiting parks, gyms, fairs and must cover themselves in public. Many have also been fired from government jobs.
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