AFGHANISTAN’S Taliban-run education ministry has instructed its public and private universities to suspend access for female students immediately until further notice, in accordance with a Cabinet decision.
About a year ago, the government had requested higher education institutions to present their proposals on how to implement a gender-segregated education system in the country, where male and female students would not be able to take classes together, just as male teachers could not be allowed to teach female students.
A letter signed by the Minister for Higher Education Neda Mohammad Nadeem and published by the Ministry on Tuesday, December 20 read: “You all are informed to immediately implement the mentioned order of suspending the education of females until further notice”.
This comes after girls were barred from returning to secondary schools in March, after the Taliban ordered schools for girls to shut just hours after they were due to reopen following month long closures imposed after the Taliban takeover in August 2021.
The announcement banning university education for women by the Taliban came as the United Nations Security Council deliberated on issues in Afghanistan at a meeting in New York.
Foreign governments have said that a change in policies on women’s education is needed before it can consider formally recognising the Taliban-run administration, which is also subject to heavy sanctions.
“The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially the human rights and fundamental freedom of women and girls,” United States Deputy UN Ambassador Robert Wood told the council, describing the move as “absolutely indefensible.”
Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward said the suspension was “another egregious curtailment of women’s rights and a deep and profound disappointment for every single female student.”
“It is also another step by the Taliban away from a self-reliant and prosperous Afghanistan,” she told the council.