The decision by the Taliban to ban girls from attending secondary school past the sixth grade is a reversal from the commitments made by Taliban leadership and a profound disappointment to thousands of girls who showed up at school throughout Afghanistan on March 23 only to find the doors closed to them.
“Education is a human right, and the United States rejects the Taliban’s excuses for reversing their commitment to the people of Afghanistan that all Afghans would be able to return to school,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “We stand with Afghan girls and their families, who see education as a path to realizing the full potential of Afghanistan’s society and economy.”
U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls and Human Rights Rina Amiri called the prohibition “a betrayal of Afghan families.” She added there is nothing Afghan about denying girls an education and that surveys show widespread support for girls’ education among the Afghan people.
Since the Taliban seized control in August 2021, women face segregation and new restrictions involving clothing, behavior and travel based on their gender. Afghan TV channels are barred from covering women’s issues, and dozens of women’s rights defenders have been detained or have disappeared.
The recent move by the Taliban barring girls from a secondary education brought wide-spread international condemnation. The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic
Cooperation “expresse[d] deep disappointment over this unexpected decision,” and that “Afghan people, boys and girls, need to see their fundamental rights, including ...education fully respected A March 24 joint statement from the Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States and the High Representative of the European Union issued a joint statement condemning the Taliban’s reversal.
“We call on the Taliban urgently to reverse this decision, which will have consequences far beyond its harm to Afghan girls,” they wrote. “Unreversed, it will profoundly harm Afghanistan’s prospects for social cohesion and economic growth, its ambition to become a respected member in the community of nations, and the willingness of Afghans to return from overseas. It will have an inevitable impact on the Taliban’s prospects of gaining political support and legitimacy either at home or abroad. Every Afghan citizen, boy or girl, man or woman,” they declared, “has an equal right to an education at all levels, in all provinces of the country.”