The Taliban have banned higher education for women

The Taliban have banned women from attending universities in Afghanistan, triggering international condemnation and sparking outrage among the country’s youth.

On Tuesday, the higher education minister announced the decision to prohibit women from attending higher education. A letter shared by the Ministry of Higher Education, informed private and public universities to implement the ban immediately. “You all are informed to immediately implement the mentioned order of suspending the education of females until further notice,” reads the letter.

The decision, which Taliban say has been done to preserve “national interest” and women’s “honour”, comes just three months after the university entrance exams. Secondary education has already been banned for teenage girls since the Taliban takeover, back in 2021.

Responding to the ban, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, called it another “broken promise” from the Taliban and a “very troubling” move. “It’s difficult to imagine how a country can develop, can deal with all of the challenges that it has, without the active participation of women and the education,” he said.

The International Rescue Committee also condemned the decision saying: “The closure of universities to women and girls is a chilling step backwards for Afghanistan. There are no two ways about it: women must be allowed to work and to move freely, and girls must be allowed to continue to go to school.”

Even though the Taliban promised to respect women’s rights, and western countries insisted is a necessary condition for global recognition, in November they banned women from parks, gyms and swimming pools. Women were also restricted from most employment and ordered them to wear head-to-toe clothing while in public. US Deputy UN Ambassador Robert Wood said: “The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially the human rights and fundamental freedom of women and girls.”