Afghanistan: Sisters speak out about dashed hopes and crushed dreams

Afghan women have raised their voices over their “uncertain future” following the Taliban’s ban, “until further notice”, on women getting a university education and two female students who spoke to Amu said their last day at university had been a very sad day for them.

Howaida Hadis and Wida Safi are two students whose hearts were broken last week when the Taliban issued the order.

‘My dreams were destroyed’

Howaida was a medical student and had hoped to graduate with top marks and serve her community as a doctor.

Raising concerns about her future, Howaida said that her dreams have been shattered. “Every person has wishes, goals, and dreams in life. The goals that he/she strives to achieve. I wanted to become a doctor in the future and be able to serve the people of my country in this way.”

She said that the Taliban are imposing increasing restrictions on women and that “the Taliban destroyed the dreams of every girl [in Afghanistan]. The Taliban have broken our wings.”

Howaida, who stayed at home after the Taliban’s order, stated she had to overcome many challenges in order to pass the university entrance exam (Kankor) so as to be accepted by the medical faculty.

She stated that her last day at university was the most difficult moment of her life – the day she was forced to say farewell to all her classmates.

Overwhelmed with disappointment, Howaida said: “University used to be our daily life; we used to talk about our lessons and plans with our friends every day. Now, we are imprisoned in the corners of our rooms. Although we study, studying can never take the place of face-to-face lessons.”

Wida Safi, who is Howaida’s younger sister, was just as ambitious as her sibling and had been studying at the Faculty of Law and Political Science. She is worried and extremely disappointed about the Taliban-run higher education ministry’s decision to ban universities for women.

“I am very sad about the closure of universities, I was studying with a lot of energy and I was hopeful for the future. I wanted to be self-sufficient in the future and to get financial independence. But now all my dreams have been destroyed,” Wida said.

She urged the Taliban government to reconsider its decision and let Afghan women pursue their education, and “achieve their dreams.”

Nadia Shamal Safi, who has been a civil activist, is the mother of these two young women. She also spoke out about the uncertain future of her daughters.

Safi stated that her daughters are very worried after being banned from university, and said she hopes the Taliban reverse their decisions.

The Taliban last week ordered all private and public universities to suspend education for Afghan women, which triggered a global outcry. Female students also staged protests in many cities in Afghanistan.

Although human rights organizations and the international community condemned the ban, the Taliban said that female students’ failure to abide by the full hijab law was the reason for the ban on universities.

Just days after issuing the ban, the Taliban also ordered international and local non-government organizations (NGOs) to suspend their female employees. This has led to a major backlash by the international community which is collectively calling on the group to reverse the decision as it is virtually impossible for aid agencies to effectively carry out their humanitarian work in the absence of their female staff.