Girls’ Education Segregated or Non-existent Under Taliban Rule in Afghanistan

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Dominic Rascati, Copy Chief

Since the recent significant departure of American troops from Afghanistan, the Middle Eastern nation has found itself under a new Taliban regime. This new rule has already harmed women, girls, and equal education as schools begin to reopen.

Currently, boys are allowed to attend secondary school while girls are not. Many girls are attending primary school, but the classes have now become segregated by gender. This is a slight change from the Taliban’s rules during 1996 to 2001 when women needed a male relative around if they wanted to leave the house, and schools for girls were shut down.

Nevertheless, the timetable for when older girls may resume their education is murky.

A 16-year-old schoolgirl from Kabul said, “I wanted to become a doctor! And that dream has vanished. I don’t think they would let us go back to school. Even if they open the high schools again, they don’t want women to become educated.”

This change has ripple effects down the education pipeline in Afghanistan. The Taliban decreed that women could attend universities, albeit in gender-segregated classes and under a new dress code in recent weeks. 

Many universities, however, are unable to provide classrooms just for women and are therefore unable to provide them with an education. Additionally, women’s education will stagnate if girls cannot finish secondary school to go on to universities in the first place.

This barrier may not prove to be permanent under the Taliban’s more recent comments. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said to reporters, “In the case of schools (for female students), the Ministry of Education is working hard to provide the ground for the education of high school girls as soon as possible, work is under way on the procedure, and it is hoped that this will be done, God willing.” It is unclear from Mujahid’s comments when this possible change can be expected.

Regardless of the current bleak conditions, some women are speaking up to alert the world of what Afghanistan is experiencing. Zarqa Yaftali, a women’s rights activist in the country, said of the Taliban, “They do not value Afghan women and want all Afghan women and girls to live in a kind of darkness.” 

As it stands, the education of many Afghan women and girls remains unclear and unfinished.