Zahra, a 16-year-old 10th grade student, holds her school uniform at her home as she marks the second anniversary of ban on girls going to higher secondary schools, in Kabul, Afghanistan, 18 September 2023. EFE/EPA/SAMIULLAH POPAL

Darkness looms as ban on female education in Afghanistan completes 2 years

Kabul, Sep 18 (EFE).- Future appeared bleak for women in Afghanistan as the ban on education for females completed two years on Monday.

Zahra, a 16-year-old 10th grade student, studies at her home as she marks the second anniversary of ban on girls going to higher secondary schools, in Kabul, Afghanistan, 18 September 2023. EFE/EPA/SAMIULLAH POPAL

Since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021, restrictions were imposed on women including a ban on secondary and higher education for women, among others, making Afghanistan the only country where adolescent girls are banned from education.

“The recent two years were the most difficult years full of sadness and distress,” Sudaba Nazhand, a school teacher, told EFE.

According to a 2020-21 report by the Ministry of Education in the previous government, more than 1.2 million female students were enrolled in secondary and higher education when the ban came into effect.

The move has confined girls mostly to their homes, and even pushed many to earn a livelihood, causing them to become farm hands, carpet weavers and do domestic chores.

“What to do when there is no education, we have to work at home. We are slowly forgetting our dreams, and (losing) our future,” Nazo Kharoti, a 16-year old girl, told EFE.

Hela, another 16-year-old girl, has had to quit her studies and is now working as a tailor, and also preparing Bolani – a kind of fast food – for her brother to sell on the street.

“I didn’t study to cook Bolani. I was dreaming of becoming a female pilot but the Taliban (…) has taken everything from us,” she told EFE.

The plight of Afghan women has been accentuated in the last two years by factors such as economic problems, drought, depriving them of the right to work, restrictions on public movement, and their social lives.

According to social activist and women’s rights advocate Nahid Noori, the Taliban government has sought to “marginalize women and girls and erase them from virtually every aspect of public life.”

“Ban on education added more stress on the Afghan people’s lives, especially whose daughters are banned from schools, and many girl students have psychological problems now,” Noori told EFE.

Shiba Raufi, a teacher, described the situation as “a catastrophe” with severe consequences for the future as “we will have abnormal families and society.”

Experts in the field of education also expressed concern over the future of the country following the move to ban female education.

“The problem is not only banning female education, but also the future of Afghanistan as the Taliban will produce a generation according to their extremist ideology,” a former deputy education minister, who asked not to be named due to safety reasons, told EFE.

In the last two years, the Taliban banned co-education, secondary education for girls, certain majors for female university students – among them journalism, law, agriculture, veterinary science, and economics -, and annual university entry exams for female students.

“With all the cruel restrictions, all females in Afghanistan have lost their hopes for the future (…) they don’t have hope or any plan for the future,” Raufi concluded. EFE