Earlier this week, at a speaking engagement in Doha, the foreign minister of the Taliban, Amir Khan Mottaqi avoided answering questions about education for women and girls and reiterated that they need more time on girls’ education.
In response to questions on girls’ education, the Minister used “cultural appropriations” as the argument for not allowing girls above grade 6 to attend schools. “In Afghanistan, there is one thing that the Afghans want and then there is another thing that the international community wants. One of the reasons that it didn’t work over the past 20 years, is that it was against the will of the Afghan people.” Previously, the group used security as the main reason for not allowing girls to attend schools.
While the minister uses “cultural” differences as the means for preventing girls from attending school, he is disregarding the real “wants of the Afghan society.” In surveys done over the past 20 years, an overwhelming majority of the Afghan people in rural and urban areas want education for themselves and their children. In a survey done by the Asia Foundation in 2019, support for women’s educational opportunities was at 86.6%. The same survey found out that 76% of the respondents supported women’s right to employment.
The Taliban’s minister for foreign affairs is currently in Doha meeting with officials from the US, EU, Britain, and the gulf. In his remarks, he demanded that the US releases Afghanistan’s assets worth $9bn and that the world should work with them.
Access to education and opportunities to women were considered some of the top achievements of the past 20 years and since the collapse of the former government on August 15th, women are not allowed to work and girls above grade 6 are told to stay home until further notice. Boys of all ages are allowed to go to school, and only women in healthcare are allowed to work.
Over the course of the negotiations with the US and the Afghan government, the Taliban stated that they will allow girls to study, women to work and that they did not intend to “monopolize” power. The group’s leaders also insist that their agreement with the US remains valid. However, after two months in power, the Taliban continues to violate the commitments they made in the agreement with the US and appears determined to weaponize women’s education and employment.
Sources: Keynote speaker Doha 10/11/2021/ Relief Web 12/3/19