Taliban allows women in universities with gender segregation; mixed response to announcement

In what comes as a big relief to Afghan girls and women, the Taliban announced that women will be allowed to study in universities in the country but with gender-segregated classrooms

Sep 13, 2021
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Taliban allows women in universities

In what comes as a big relief to Afghan girls and women, the Taliban announced that women will be allowed to study in universities in the country but with gender-segregated classrooms. Women were barred from education in the country in the late 90s when the group ruled over the country.  The Sunday announcement met with mixed reactions from activists and common Afghans. Some say it is still better to access education, even if it comes with gender-segregated classrooms, while others say the gender segregation clause will not help boost the confidence of the new generation that has experienced gender freedom and parity in the last 25 years. 

Abdul Baqi Haqqani, the Taliban’s Higher Education Minister, said that they would "start building the country on what exists today" and did not want to turn to the 90s. However, the group also imposed a condition that girls and women should be taught by women professors wherever it is possible. 

Men can only teach women students using a curtain or through video conferencing. Strict segregation should be maintained between girls and boys in classrooms, the minister said on Sunday. 

"Thanks to God we have a high number of women teachers. We will not face any problems in this. All efforts will be made to find and provide women teachers for female students," he told a news conference in Kabul.

The Taliban walked into the streets of  Kabul on 15 August, bringing back painful memories of the dark days of the 90s when the group controlled the country with strict and harsh social policies, curtailing almost basic rights like access to education and freedom to work for women.  

The week-long protests by women in main cities rocked the Taliban last week. Thousands of women took to the streets, demanding their participation in the government, rights to work, and education. 

Almost four weeks in Kabul, the Taliban remains apprehensive of large-scale protests and therefore has been walking slow on clarifying its social policies not to provoke large-scale demonstrations.  

The Taliban has already said it will not allow women in sports, as that would be tantamount to exposing part of their bodies, which was against their interpretation of Islamic values. 


(SAM) 

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