International Day of Education requires us to fight for women’s education everywhere. In Afghanistan, the Taliban has denied women and girls access to education.

“I love school. It brightens my future, builds up my education, and I learn about life,” Fariza, Afghan girl, UNICEF

As the world celebrates International Day of Education, this day serves as a grim reminder of the restrictions on Afghan women’s and girls’ opportunity to pursue an education. 

Afghan women and girls have been forced out of school for more than 850 days. 

Girls cannot pursue an education beyond sixth grade and women cannot pursue higher education in public universities. Banning women from receiving an education does not only inflict harm on 50% of the population, it isolates Afghanistan from the rest of the world, affects all Afghans and their communities, and has a negative impact on Afghanistan’s economy. 

Prior to the Taliban takeover, all 34 provinces offered women and girls access to education at all levels. From 2002 to 2021 3.5 million girls enrolled in first to 12th grade. Afghanistan also had 200,000 teachers, including 80,000 female teachers. Over 100,000 women were enrolled in public or private universities. 

The right to education is a universal human right outlined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Moreover, the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Children (CRC) holds that countries must make education accessible to all. In fact, a quality education is listed as goal number 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

“In Afghanistan, education for all, for girls and boys, women and men, is more than just a fundamental right. It is the foundation for Afghanistan’s future,” said Roza Otunbayeva, using this day as an opportunity to once again call on the Taliban to lift the ban on girls’ education. 

Opening schools is not only a western ideal but a demand of Muslim countries. “In the holy religion of Islam, every day is the day of education, but unfortunately today on the International Day of Education schools and universities are closed [in Afghanistan.]”, said Tafsir Seyaposh, a women’s rights activist.

It is no secret that education is the key for women to independence, escaping poverty and building a successful future. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations said “to educate girls is to reduce poverty.” In Afghanistan, the dire humanitarian crisis demonstrates the need to educate women and girls. 

The Taliban’s edicts on education also target men and boys. Schools have been burned down as a tactic to crack down on educational institutions. Over the past two years, Afghanistan has seen the rapid increase in madrassas, religious education institutes. While there is nothing inherently wrong with religious education, these madrassas have been used as centers for training suicide bombers and weapon use. 


UNICEF, Tolonews, UN, USIP 

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