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Afghanistan Bans All Girls and Women from Secondary Education and Employment Opportunities!

“The world suffers a lot, not due to the violence of bad people but due to the silence of good people” -Napoleon. 

At the beginning of the new Afghan week, the Ministry of Education announced boys to return to their schools with no mention of girls. The Taliban banned girls from secondary education all over Afghanistan. According to statements made, they are also prohibiting women from all employment sectors. 

The Taliban took over the government of Afghanistan in August 15, 2021. As you may know, they are in an international terrorist group organization that imposes highly regressive and conservative standards and eliminate particular groups, rights defenders, and journalists. 

According to The Guardian, Islam is not the grounds on which they can ban education as it is highly prioritized for women, so now their reason for banning higher education is the ‘security’ of women. 

UNWOMEN states that the extremist group initially promised women being able to exercise their rights according to Sharia law for education and work, but they have effectively eliminated girls from public life. 

The extremist in the 1990s banished girls from education and said that the arrangement for women’s education is ‘temporary’, but they never removed it. Since 2021, Afghan girls are certain of these lies. 

Since the hardline extremists have cut off secondary education.  Here is a brief description of how they are affected. 


The cost of girls not attending secondary education

The world bank reports limiting educational opportunities for girls and obstacles in completing 12 years of education cost countries to lose between $15 trillion and $30 trillion in productivity and earnings globally. 

As the saying goes “when you educate a man, you educate one person, when you educate a woman, you educate a nation” UNICEF backs up this statement by stating that girls’ education strengthens economies and reduces inequality. It also helps to contribute to a society that is stable and resilient further helping in fulfilling the potential of every individual including boys and men.  

The report points out that secondary education is essential as only primary education does not contribute significantly. 

In terms of earnings and living standard, it highlights the negative effect that girls without secondary education face with the fact that only 14 to 19% of women earn more than those without any education.   

Besides education, what is not allowed for Afghan girls?  

Further Restricted Rights 

According to DW, women have been totally excluded from working in various sectors. Many sources including UNWOMEN point out that a large number of women were sent home by the Taliban when they 1st ruled the country. This included women from the ministerial level to office clerks. According to Aljazeera, the new de facto authorities have dissolved the Ministry of Women Affairs systematically removing women from any political participation and the public sphere. There have been protests which were quickly shut down by the hardline extremists. The protesters are bound to leave the nation, but still five women’s rights groups are still active there. Social media has been a tool to raise voices against the Taliban’s attacks, arbitrary arrests, disappearances and not to forget physical and psychological torture. 

The press brief in the above-mentioned source highlights that girls and women are required a male chaperone to travel more than 78 km but other sources state that the Taliban have ordered women to stay at home unless necessary.

The Marham restriction has limited women to have access to healthcare, economic opportunities, basic necessities and survival tactics. It has also totally erased decades of hard-earned freedom. 

One of the factors immensely affected since the extremists took over is mental health. Let’s hear from Afghan girls what facing such adversities is like.     

Mental Health Affected 

Frayal is a 14-year-old girl who should be in 9th grade. She loved going to classes even though there were no chairs or tables and studied in hot, overcrowded tents. In an interview with a journalist, she said, she misses her friends, the playground, and how they would braid each other's hair. She cries questioning “Why have they only closed our schools, not the boys’ schools? Are the Taliban at war with women?”

Saima since a little girl dreamt of being a journalist. She helped her father sell fries on Kabul streets. After school, she’d peel potatoes hoping her father could afford university tuition fees. Most days he’d earn less than $5. She cried a lot but finally got roughly $60 for Rana University’s journalism program. 

She knew her father couldn’t afford fees for the next semester, yet determined to somehow earn the degree. A teacher asked her to leave the class in 2nd semester as she hadn’t paid fees. With tears in her eyes, she goes to the finance department to ask for an extension. Many teachers donated $7.50 to cover her bill. With no other option, Saima worked hard to get a scholarship and maintained the position to afford to be educated. Be it financial hardship or any other reason, she was unstoppable in achieving her journalism degree but the Taliban did. 

When she heard of the news, she said, “she thought she was dead inside and was an empty corpse”, according to CBS news. 

According to an article by Save the Children, since the Taliban takeover, 97% of families are struggling to provide enough food for their families, and girls have reduced eating even more.  

Women make up 75% of those who visit Herat Regional Mental Health hospital who come for counseling, Farzana is one of them. She says she has lost all hope with the Taliban's return. She says, “ I felt isolated after the university doors were closed, I even don’t speak with my mother.” “I have been thinking about killing myself due to severe depression.” she said with the Rukshana Media during her hospital visit. 


Afghan women say that the world is watching them suffer and doing nothing.

Perhaps it may be as their severe situations and everyday frustrations are simply news on our screens that don’t interrupt our routine, or perhaps we can’t do much as individuals or groups of people as they are powerful and threatening to those who are speaking out against those hooligan mindsets.   

Yet, we can’t keep it only to ourselves seeing this brutality as the decades of the progress of women's rights as individuals are reversed, slapping the mindset of all progressive individuals, groups, and human rights defenders.

Each and every one of us should raise our voices for Afghan women and their lives as we are in a position of privilege.

What would you do to help girls and women in Afghanistan? Your view would be absolutely crucial and appreciated in the comments.

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