Afghanistan

UN asks Taliban to take urgent measures to reopen girls’ schools

Girls in Kapisa proivnce, July, 2021.

On the day marking the first anniversary of the exclusion of girls from high schools in Afghanistan, the United Nations in a statement on Sunday reiterated its call on the Taliban to take urgent measures to reopen secondary schools for girls across the country.

“This is a tragic, shameful, and entirely avoidable anniversary,” said Markus Potzel, the acting head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

“The ongoing exclusion of girls from high school has no credible justification and has no parallel anywhere in the world. It is profoundly damaging to a generation of girls and to the future of Afghanistan itself,” said the UN envoy.

When high schools were re-opened to boys on 18 September 2021, the Taliban instructed girls to remain at home. It is estimated that more than one million girls have been barred from attending high school over the past year, the UN says.

UN added that the Taliban has failed to deliver on various promises that they will enable girls to return to the classroom. The ban prevents girls from attending grades seven to twelve, primarily impacting girls aged between 12 and 18.

The denial of education violates the most fundamental rights of girls and women. It increases the risk of marginalization, violence, exploitation and abuse against girls and is part of a broader range of discriminatory policies and practices targeting women and girls since the Taliban takeover in the summer of 2021.

The UN yet again calls upon the Taliban to reverse the slew of measures they have introduced restricting Afghan women and girls’ enjoyment of their fundamental rights and freedoms.

“The window of opportunity may be narrowing, but we urge them to take concrete steps – such as actively enabling girls to return to high school – that can lift Afghanistan up and give hope to its people,” UN said.

If the ban on girls attending high school remains, the UN is increasingly concerned that such measures, taken together with other restrictions being placed upon Afghans’ basic freedoms, will contribute to a deepening of Afghanistan’s crises, including greater insecurity, poverty and isolation.

UN says the responsibility is on the Taliban to create favorable conditions for peace, inclusion, security, human rights and economic recovery.

The international community remains ready to support a government that is representative of all its people and respects their rights, the UN concludes.