Taliban suspends Afghan girls access to university education
Some Taliban officials have said that the ban was only temporary - that time was further needed to reform the syllabus according to Islamic principles.
Afghanistan's Ministry for Higher Education said on Tuesday that the Taliban authorities have implemented a nationwide ban on university education for females, a move that comes just three months after thousands of women sat for entrance examinations for higher education across the country.
"You all are informed to immediately implement the mentioned order of suspending education of females until further notice," said a statement signed by the Minister for Higher Education, Neda Mohammad Nadeem, delivered to all public and private academic institutions.
BREAKING: The Taliban have banned women from universities.— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) December 20, 2022
This is a shameful decision that violates the right to education for women and girls in Afghanistan. The Taliban are making it clear every day that they don't respect the fundamental rights of Afghans, especially women. pic.twitter.com/Ydf13rvsbF
Right after the Taliban took over power, universities were ordered to implement new regulations that prohibited gender mixing in classrooms and entrances.
Prior to this announcement, there was already a ban set in place on girls' secondary education, which had already caused severely limited access to higher education.
Some officials have said that the ban was only temporary - that time was further needed to reform the syllabus according to Islamic principles.
Others have cited the lack of funds as another reason for the school closures.
On December 7, the Taliban decided to hold high school graduation exams for girls, even though they have been prohibited from attending classes since last year. Simultaneously, a group of Afghan women protested the Taliban's decision.
Afghanistan was seized by the Taliban in August 2021 after a hasty US withdrawal. When in power, the Taliban prohibited female students in high school from attending classes and imposed other restrictions on them.
The Taliban decided to permit girls to sit for their final exams at the end of November 2022.
Reaction from the US
US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Tuesday that the US condemned the Taliban's decision to implement a ban on women's access to higher education.
"The Taliban should expect that this decision, which is in contravention to the commitments they have made repeatedly and publicly to their own people, will carry concrete costs for them," Price said, adding the US denounces the ban "in the strongest terms."
"They have seriously -- possibly even fatally -- undermined one of their deepest ambitions... and that is an improvement and betterment of relations with the United States and the rest of the world," the Spokesperson added.
"This unacceptable stance will have significant consequences for the Taliban and will further alienate the Taliban from the international community and deny them the legitimacy they desire."
Read more: Afghan Women March for More Rights in the New Taliban Government