Afghanistan: Activists seek world’s collective stance against ‘continued closure’ of girls’ schools

Girls in Kapisa province, July, 2021. File photo.

A group of nearly 200 activists and 15 watchdog organizations in a statement on Friday called for a collective and more coordinated stance by the international community to put pressure on the Taliban to make sure secondary schools are reopened for girls in Afghanistan.

It is the third year that starts without the presence of girls in Afghanistan, the statement said, adding that the continued ban on girls’ education by the Taliban has disappointed youth disappointed and has negatively impacted their hope for a better future in the country.

“We as a network of defenders of girls’ access to education urge world leaders, the UN and regional and international allies to take a courageous and coordinated step towards the reopening of girls’ schools and universities in Afghanistan,” said the statement.

The activities put forward a number of specific demands, including taking a serious stance by Muslim nations.

“We expect more than an announcement of solidarity, social media messages, or unfruitful (ceremonial) meetings,” the activists said in the statement. “It is a must that world leaders put urgent and productive pressure through the political and diplomatic channels on the Taliban at the international level and should seriously support the reopening of girls’ schools and universities in Afghanistan.”

Photo: Reuters

“We demand serious interference by Muslim nations, Islamic Cooperation Organization and countries in the region to put pressure on the Taliban to remove restrictions and bans on girls’ education,” the statement added.

The activists said the ban on women and girls by the Taliban is a tragedy and to end it, the international community and the UNSC should interfere from a human rights point of view to secure human rights, especially in preventing women’s rights violations based on international laws and regulations and finding practical exit strategies.

The statement added that any society where women and girls lack freedom of speech and freedom of expression will not progress and ultimately will not achieve sustainable development goals. Educated and empowered women and girls can make our world safer, it concluded.

This comes as secondary schools have been closed for girls for the past 550 days in Afghanistan. The new school year started this week, but the Taliban did not allow girls to attend secondary schools. In a statement, the Taliban’s ministry of education announced that primary schools will open for girls but all administrative officials and teachers should be women.