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Rights in jeopardy: How the international community should respond to the girls’ education crisis in Afghanistan

World leaders must hold the Taliban accountable for their promise to reopen schools and step up their support for Afghanistan’s education system.

Girls’ secondary education in Afghanistan is in peril. Since seizing power in August 2021, Taliban leaders have shut secondary schools for girls, making Afghanistan the only country in the world to prohibit girls’ education. This de facto ban nearly doubled the number of girls out of school at the secondary leveland has cost Afghan girls more than 200 million days of learning to date.

The international community’s response to the Taliban takeover has led to humanitarian and economic crises that have exacerbated the existing barriers to girls’ education in Afghanistan. The freezing of Afghanistan’s assets and the significant restriction of aid has devastated Afghan civilians, with 97% of the population now at risk of poverty. The education system is on the brink of collapse. Teachers have not been paid for months. And Taliban authorities are actively implementing a system of oppression and fear around women’s and girls’ rights — including the right to education.

The Taliban have committed to reopening classes for all girls by late March, but simply issuing an edict or unlocking classroom doors is not enough. To prevent a reversal of Afghan women’s and girls’ rights, world leaders must hold the Taliban accountable for their promise to reopen schools and step up their support for Afghanistan’s education system.

Malala Fund’s new policy briefing, Rights in jeopardy: How the international community should respond to the girls’ education crisis in Afghanistan, outlines four key actions that international and regional communities must take to begin to alleviate the girls’ education crisis and deliver on their commitments to girls. These actions include shoring up the education system and ensuring continued demand for girls’ education, helping girls attend school safely, preventing rollbacks on education quality and including women and girls in decision-making spaces to create a more inclusive government.

To learn more about how the international community can help support girls’ education in Afghanistan, read the full paper below.

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