An Afghan teacher defies the Taliban by running a secret school for girls

In July, the Taliban called a meeting of hand-picked clerics to decide the fate of the education ban. But only two clergy came to support the girls’ education. Since then, the Taliban have not made any progress on whether they are willing to compromise

“Initially we were hopeful that they would reopen the schools, but over time we noticed that, no, they are doing something else.” They just issue judgments against women after every day,” Nazhand said. “I don’t think they are ready to reopen schools, the Taliban have no problem with girls’ schools, but they want to use them politically.” They want to continue their control over society by banning girls’ schools. It’s to their advantage to put restrictions on women because they can’t do it on men.”

After the US military intervention in Afghanistan in late 2001, which ousted the Taliban, the war-torn country witnessed a series of socioeconomic reforms and reconstruction programs. The post-Taliban constitution, ratified in 2004, expanded women’s rights to attend school, vote, work, serve in civil society and protest. In 2009, women were running for president for the first time in the country’s history.

But four decades of war and hostility took a toll on Afghanistan’s basic infrastructure, including the nation’s educational assets.

And even before the Taliban took power in August. 15 last year, a UNICEF report revealed that Afghanistan was struggling with more than 4.2 million children out of school, 60% of whom were girls. Although the potential cost of not educating boys and girls equally is high in terms of lost income, not educating girls is particularly costly because of the link between education and students delaying marriage and childbearing, participating in the labor force, making decisions about own future. , and invest more in the health and education of their own children later in life. The analysis indicates that Afghanistan will not be able to recover the GDP lost during the transition and achieve its real productivity without fulfilling girls’ right to access and complete secondary education. UNICEF also estimated that if the current cohort of 3 million girls could complete secondary education and enter the workforce, it would contribute at least $5.4 billion to the Afghan economy.

Amnesty International’s report also says that the Taliban have prevented women across Afghanistan from working.

“Most government workers have been told to stay at home, with the exception of those working in certain sectors such as health and education,” the report said. “In the private sector, many women have been removed from top positions. The Taliban’s policy seems to be that they will only allow women who cannot be replaced by men to continue working. Women who have continued to work told Amnesty International that they find it very difficult to face Taliban restrictions on their dress and behaviour, such as requiring female doctors to avoid treating male patients or interacting with male colleagues.

“Twenty years ago, when the Taliban took over Afghanistan, the first thing they did was ban women’s access to education,” Nazhand said. “The Taliban kept large numbers of women in solitary confinement and as an illiterate population; the result was a paralyzed and backward society. We should not forget that the Taliban still suffer from the radical and oppressive mentality they had 20 years ago. We should not be the women we were 20 years ago and we will not be silent.”

Security threats and terrorism have also been a major concern for students in Afghanistan. In late October, a suicide bomber attacked a class full of over 500 students in western Kabul, killing at least 54 graduates – including 54 young girls. The attack was the second deadly attack on educational centers in the country since the Taliban took power.

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