Female students frustrated over university subject restrictions

A group of female students who passed this month’s university exam said they are frustrated over the limited options available to them after the Taliban introduced course restrictions.

Three women from Bamiyan, who wrote the entrance examination recently, spoke out about their disappointment regarding choices available.

The Taliban recently decided to bar female students from studying certain courses including journalism, economics, engineering, veterinary sciences, and agriculture among others.

This year’s university exams were held on different days with the last phase of the exams in Kabul on Oct. 13 and Oct. 14.

According to sources who spoke to Amu, there was a significant decrease in the number of university applicants who wrote the exam this year, especially women.

Layiqa Mohibi

One young woman from Bamiyan, Layiqa Mohibi, said she was well prepared for the exam and had already drawn up a list of preferred courses that she was hoping to select in consultation with her family and teachers.

The faculty of economics at Kabul University was at the top of her list, but a day after writing the exam, she heard about restrictions being imposed on female students.
Not only did she have to scrap the idea of doing economics but her 4th choice had been agriculture.

“I was forced to choose fields that I was not interested in and my plan was systematically changed,” she added.

Mohibi said the entire process was “frustrating” for women like her.

“There is no progress in a government where women are not given a role in various sectors,” she added.


Another similar story is that of Rokhshana, a resident of Waras district in Bamiyan, who said she had prepared for the exam at home over the past year.

Rokhshana said that she is hoping to go to medical school but if that doesn’t happen then her next choice is to study economics.

However, she is concerned about the Ministry of Higher Education implementing the decision to bar women from studying economics.

“We are thinking about what we lack. Women so far did not have anything less than men when it comes to their achievement in university departments,” Rokhshana said.


Waheeda, another female student from Bamiyan, said she sat the exam on Oct. 7, but unlike previous years, she now faces fewer options.

She said the fields of journalism, agriculture, engineering, fine arts and veterinary science were excluded from the selection list for female students.

She added that her desired field was to study economics at Kabul University and that she had been trying to enroll for the past year and a half.

Despite this, she said, she has chosen economics as her first choice but it is not clear whether she will be admitted.

“It is disappointing to study for a year … and then to see you cannot choose this field. It took us back a year,” she said.

Waheeda said she hopes the Taliban overturn the decision.

Students appeal

These students have meanwhile called on the international community to try to get restrictions imposed on women in Afghanistan removed.

Women’s rights activists say the number of female students applying to university in Afghanistan will drop sharply in the coming years unless the Taliban reopens secondary schools for girls.