tomorrow, at the beginning of the school year AfghanistanSad day for Afghan teenage girls and the world. The sadness of both their right to education for girls and the failure of the world to take action to stop the ban.
Today is the 550th day that adolescent girls are denied their right to education. The Taliban’s misogynistic rule has made Afghanistan the only country that bans girls from secondary school.
The Taliban closed girls’ schools after they took over Afghanistan, but promised to respect girls’ right to education. But on the day girls’ schools reopened, March 23, 2022, the Taliban shamefully broke His promise and the teenage girls were sent home.
It is cruel that the Taliban happily waited until the girls returned to school before ordering them to go home. The girls went home crying, but still had hope of going back.
However, late last year, the Taliban doubled down on their neglect of women by banning women’s university education.
These orders not only reinforced the Taliban’s reputation for disregarding women and girls as rights holders, but they also proved that the Taliban as a nation had no interest in the well-being of Afghanistan. Without educated girls and women no country can imagine a prosperous future and Afghanistan with the highest illiteracy rate in the world faces a bleak future.
The Taliban also closed girls’ schools from 1996–2001, depriving a generation of girls at least five years of learning, thriving, and becoming who they wanted to be. History is repeating itself, with the Taliban’s fraudulent excuses, lies and failed promises. Meanwhile, teenage girls in Afghanistan are losing hope and having some of the best years of their lives.
Last year, I interviewed 16-year-old Atefa, who, in an attempt to explain her helplessness, said, “For Afghan girls, the earth is unbearable, and the sky impassable.” A year later she told me: “I have only one question, will world leaders tolerate it if their daughters are banned from school?”
The Taliban must immediately reverse their anti-feminist edict, reopen schools and universities for girls and women, and stop attacking girls, women and the future of the country.
As far as world leaders are concerned, the Atefa question should lead to swift, practical and meaningful action.