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With the decision to ban women from attending university, the Taliban betray Afghan students and the nation

Credit: Pradeep Gaur/Shutterstock
Credit: Pradeep Gaur/Shutterstock

Without women’s freedom and participation in education, work, community and politics — there can be no future for Afghanistan."

Malala Fund strongly condemns the Taliban’s announcement yesterday banning women from attending private and public universities in Afghanistan. Such a move is contrary to the fundamental human rights of Afghan women and girls and the importance given to education for all in the Islamic faith. The suspension of women’s access to universities comes despite assurances from the Taliban when they seized power in August 2021 that they would uphold access to education for girls and women. Instead, we have witnessed the steady erasure of their rights over the past 16 months. Afghan women and girls have faced over 34 edicts in the last year stripping them of their rights, including the right to work outside the home, attend secondary school and now, denial of university education. 

Without women’s freedom and participation in education, work, community and politics — there can be no future for Afghanistan. By denying girls and young women an education, the Taliban are denying Afghanistan of doctors, economists, engineers, teachers and business leaders. They are betraying both Afghan girls and the Afghan nation,” says Freshta Karim, a children's right activist and advisor to Malala Fund.  

The de facto authorities in Afghanistan must overturn the university ban and the ban on girls’ secondary education that came into force over a year ago. All children and young people, particularly girls, must have equal opportunities to pursue their education and fulfill their ambitions. 

Leaders around the world must be courageous in denouncing the Taliban’s actions. Muslim leaders in particular must challenge the Taliban’s misuse of Islam to prop up their regressive policies. And all countries must refrain from quiet normalisation of relations with the Taliban over trade and transport links. There should be no formal recognition of the Taliban until they respect womens’ rights. 

“The suspension of women’s access to universities must be a wake up call for leaders around the world to show greater solidarity with the Afghan people, especially women and girls,'' says Philippa Lei, Chief Global Advocacy Officer. We need a new sense of outrage and urgency. Global leaders must coordinate efforts, including through a Global Summit on Afghan Women and Girls to agree on international response to this increasing and egregious gender apartheid.


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Malala Fund is working for a world where every girl can learn and lead.

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