It’s been 1,000 days since the Taliban banned girls from secondary education, per the UN.


One thousand days have passed since the Taliban prohibited girls in Afghanistan from attending secondary schools, a stark reality highlighted by the UN children’s agency. UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell has urgently appealed to Taliban authorities to immediately allow all children, especially Afghan girls, to resume their education. The agency estimates that over 1 million girls are directly affected by this ban.

The United Nations has underscored that this restriction on girls’ education remains the Taliban’s primary hurdle to gaining international recognition as Afghanistan’s legitimate rulers. Since assuming power following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces in 2021, the Taliban has justified this stance citing their strict interpretation of Islamic law, which they claim forbids girls from continuing their education.

Despite early promises of a more moderate governance, the Taliban has also imposed severe restrictions on women, barring them from higher education, public spaces like parks, and most employment opportunities. This echoes their policies during their previous rule in the 1990s when girls’ education was similarly outlawed.

In recent developments, the Taliban has restricted girls from attending classes beyond the sixth grade, marking Afghanistan as the only country globally with such stringent constraints on female education. In March, the start of the new school year saw girls being turned away from schools beyond this grade level, while female journalists were excluded from attending the opening ceremonies.

Additionally, the Taliban has been promoting Islamic education over basic literacy and numeracy through the expansion of madrassas, religious schools that prioritize religious teachings.

UNICEF’s executive director condemned the systematic exclusion of girls, describing it not only as a violation of their fundamental right to education but also as a factor leading to reduced opportunities and deteriorating mental health among Afghan girls.

Despite these challenges, UNICEF continues to collaborate with partners to operate community-based education programs benefiting 600,000 children, with a focus on girls, and to provide teacher training initiatives.

While Afghan boys generally have access to education, Human Rights Watch has raised concerns about the Taliban’s educational policies, describing them as “abusive” and harmful to boys. A December report highlighted significant disruptions in boys’ education due to the departure of qualified teachers, including women, and an increase in disciplinary measures like corporal punishment.

The international community remains pivotal in advocating for the rights of Afghan children, especially girls, to education. The ongoing situation underscores broader challenges in achieving gender equality and ensuring access to education in Afghanistan amidst political transitions and changing governance structures.


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