In a move that sparked universal criticism, the Taliban banned women from attending university classes and also from working for non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
On this Thursday, the minister of higher education in the Taliban government announced that women in Afghanistan must not be allowed to attend universities.
The official order, which was inked by the Taliban’s Minister of Higher Education Neda Mohammad Nadeem, demanded both public and private universities to “immediately implement the order of suspending the education of females until further notice”.
Justifying the move as “necessary to prevent the mixing of genders in universities”, Nadim said that the decision was made to stop the violation of principles of Islam in higher education places in Afghanistan.
To make matters even worse, girls in Afghanistan have already been barred even from attending secondary schools. Since the Taliban took power last year, they have gradually limited the access of women and girls to public spaces.
Critics rebuked the Taliban’s controversial decision
The move, as expected, was met with harsh universal condemnation. It was first the foreign ministers of the G-7 group, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union, who rebuked the decision and urged the Taliban to cancel the ban.
In a statement last week on Friday, the ministers warned the Taliban that “gender persecution may amount to a crime against humanity”, and that “Taliban policies designed to erase women from public life will have consequences for how our countries engage with the Taliban”.
Many Muslim-majority countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar also condemned the decision against the Afghan women and urged the Taliban to rethink. Defending the controversial decision in a televised interview, Nadim lashed out at the critics, saying that foreigners should stop interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.
Women barred from working in NGOs too
In yet another move to restrict the social freedom of Afghan women, the Taliban-run administration ordered all local and foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Afghanistan to dismiss their female employees.
In a statement made by the Taliban’s Economy Ministry and announced by the Ministry’s spokesperson Abdulrahman Habib, female employees of NGOs across Afghanistan are not allowed to work until further notice.
The reason behind the announcement, as the spokesperson noted, was that some women have allegedly not been adhering to the administration’s interpretation of Islamic dress code for females. This is while according to NGOs in Afghanistan, female employees are critical for them and dismissing all of them will harm the efficiency of the organizations.
Good to mention that in Afghanistan, there are dozens of organizations operate across remote areas of Afghanistan and many of their employees are women, with several warning a ban on women staff would hinder their work.
The Taliban again faced with universal condemnation
Condemning the decision, the International Rescue Committee said in a statement that its more than 3,000 female employees who work in Afghanistan were “critical for the delivery of humanitarian assistance” in the country.
Afghan people also rebuked the move and small numbers of women protested in Kabul on this Wednesday after the decision was made public. United Nations also reacted to the anti-woman policy, with its spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric calling it “another broken promise from the Taliban” and “another troubling move.”
Similarly, the UN secretary general António Guterres lashed out at the Taliban and said he was “deeply alarmed” by the news, further asserting that “the move violated women’s right to equality and would have a devastating impact on the country’s future”.
Last but not least, US secretary of state Antony Blinken criticized the decision and said women were “central to humanitarian operations around the world” and that the ban would be “devastating” to Afghans as it would “disrupt vital and life-saving assistance to millions”.