Afghanistan: University staff resign in protest over ban on women’s education

Herat University, Herat city.

More than 70 university lecturers have resigned across Afghanistan in protest over the Taliban’s suppressive decision to ban women from getting a university education.

The Taliban-run ministry of higher education on Tuesday suspended access to universities for female students until further notice, drawing outrage among the international community.

A day after the decision was made, as many as 15 lecturers resigned from Nangarhar, Kandahar, and Balkh universities, as well as from a number of other educational institutions in the country.

On Thursday, another 48 professors of public and private universities either resigned or announced that they will stop teaching until Afghan women are allowed to return to university.

Mohammad Haseeb Azimi, a professor at Kabul University, who resigned on Wednesday, told Amu correspondent that the Taliban have no satisfactory reason to ban women from higher education.

“I will stand with all girls of the country and I will not attend university to teach until the girls return to their education,” Azimi said.

“When I went to the university on Wednesday, I saw that the security forces did not allow the female students to enter the university. The girls were in tears and left the university for home but some of them were still waiting. It was hard for me to bear the condition of my sisters. Therefore, I submitted my resignation and left the university,” he added.

Obaidullah Wardak, who was the first professor to resign in protest over the Taliban’s decision, called on the group “to stop making excuses and allow the girls to study.”

“I stand for the basic rights of my sisters and that’s why I resigned. I will not attend the university until the university is opened for women,” Wardak said.

Rashad Jamalyar, a professor at the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences of Balkh University, wrote on his Facebook page: “I am resigning as the sacred duty teaching, in protest of closing the gates of education against a large part of the society (women).”

Ferdous Pirzad, a journalism faculty professor at Balkh University, also announced his resignation and said: “With the decision to suspend the education for girls in universities, I have decided not to teach until girls have the same right to pursue education as boys.”

The Taliban’s decision drew worldwide condemnation. Foreign ministers for Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the EU in a joint statement said that the Taliban’s policies were designed to erase women from public life and that “will have consequences for how our countries engage with the Taliban.”

Meanwhile, a number of countries close to the Taliban regime, including Pakistan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, have also condemned the Taliban’s move. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said that the Taliban’s decision to deprive girls of the right to access education was against Islamic teachings.

Earlier, the European Union Parliament said that the Taliban’s policies against Afghan women are “misogynist” and “gender apartheid”.