A new academic year begins in Afghanistan without girls as the Taliban continues to deny their education

Spring is a season that signifies fresh opportunities, growth and hope. This month is also marked with the celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th. However, for Afghan women and girls, the reality is very different as they continue to be oppressed by an extreme gender apartheid. 

In Afghanistan, the school year begins in the Spring, on March 23rd. For the third year in a row, girls have been banned from attending secondary school beyond the 6th grade. According to the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, more than 1 million girls are impacted by the Taliban decrees restricting education and more rights of women and girls. Afghanistan is the only country in the world with this policy. 

The ban on education was seen as a temporary measure, as the Taliban de facto authorities promised that certain conditions would be needed for girls to return to school, but no progress has been made in over the past 2 years. Since their return to power, the Taliban has issued over 100 harsh edicts directed towards women and girls and shifted towards madrassas, or religious schools, rather than literacy and numeracy skills. Religion and culture hold value but cannot be weaponized to deprive people of their basic human rights.  

Human Rights Watch has expressed concern over the deep harm that has been inflicted on boys as a result of these changes in their curriculum and focus on religious education. For example, female teachers are not allowed to teach boys and an increase in corporal punishment has led to lower attendance in regular schools. 

Furthermore, women and girls are excluded from participating in all areas of public life. The Taliban’s education ministry held a ceremony for the start of the academic year which female journalists were not allowed to attend stating “due to the lack of a suitable place for the sisters, we apologize to female reporters.” 

Women’s lack of access to education remains one of Afghanistan’s biggest obstacles. And the lack of respect and dignity and equality are even bigger obstacles for women and girls. 


AP News 3/20/2024

Euro News 3/21/2024

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