Taliban’s Ban on Girls’ Education Past 6th Grade Enters its 1,000th Day: UNICEF

June 14, 2024 by No Comments

It has been 1,000 days since girls were banned from attending secondary schools in Afghanistan, according to UNICEF, which stated on Thursday that “no country can move forward when half its population is left behind.”

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell issued a statement urging the Taliban authorities to immediately allow all children to return to learning. She also called on the international community to support Afghan girls, who she said need it more than ever. The agency estimates that over 1 million girls are affected by the ban.

has warned that the ban on girls’ education remains the Taliban’s biggest obstacle to gaining recognition as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan.

The Taliban, who seized control of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces in 2021, have stated that girls continuing their education goes against their strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Despite initial promises of a more moderate rule, the Taliban have also barred women from higher education, public spaces like parks, and most jobs as part of harsh measures imposed. The Taliban, during their previous rule in Afghanistan in the 1990s, also banned girls’ education.

The Taliban have barred girls from attending classes beyond the sixth grade, making Afghanistan the only country in the world with such restrictions on female education.

In March, the new school year began with girls barred from attending classes beyond the sixth grade. Female journalists were not allowed to attend the opening ceremony.

The Taliban have also been prioritizing Islamic knowledge over basic literacy and numeracy with their shift toward madrassas, or religious schools.

UNICEF’s executive director called the systematic exclusion of girls “not only a blatant violation of their right to education, but also results in dwindling opportunities and deteriorating mental health.”

She stated that UNICEF works with partners to run community-based education classes for 600,000 children, two-thirds of them girls, and train teachers.

Although Afghan boys have access to education, Human Rights Watch has said the Taliban’s “abusive” educational policies are harming them. In a report published in December, the group said deep harm has been inflicted on boys’ education as qualified teachers — including women — left, including an increase in corporal punishment.

Also on Thursday, a spokesperson for the said the Taliban have told female civil servants barred from working that their salaries would be cut to the lowest level regardless of their experience or qualifications.

The latest “discriminatory and profoundly arbitrary decision” further deepened the erosion of human rights in Afghanistan, said Liz Throssell.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, called on authorities to rescind all laws, instructions, edicts and other measures that discriminated against women and girls, in clear violation of the country’s human rights obligations, Throssell added.

Nobody from the Taliban was immediately available for comment.