Call for immediate removal of Taliban’s ban on girls and women’s education in Afghanistan

Afghanistani women can no longer get outside of their homes without the fear of getting arrested. If they dare to go outside alone or talk to someone not related by blood or marriage, they will be detained, prosecuted on charge of moral crimes, and will be subjected to public and private flogging. Dozens of women are being flogged on daily basis on ideological grounds. These repressive, inhumane and degrading measures are harming Afghan girls and women permanently on a scale unimaginable.

Picture of University enterance exam (Kankor) in Bamyan University in 2021 before Taliban

Call for immediate removal of Taliban’s ban on girls and women’s education in Afghanistan

Date: 23 January 2023

His Excellency Mr Antonio Guterres,

Secretary General

United Nations

New York, NY 10017

Your Excellency,

First, I would like to thank you for your efforts for global peace and I am taking this opportunity to wish you a happy New Year. I hope the year 2023 will provide us some respite from violence and repression with fundamental human rights around the world and especially in Afghanistan.

As we were concluding the violence-stricken year 2022, the Taliban banned women from university education on December 20, 2022 and suspended women from employment at national and international non-government organizations on December 24, 2022. They had previously banned girls from secondary education, public parks and sports clubs. The Taliban have issued over 30 directives since they took over Afghanistan in August 2021, targeting all aspects of women’s lives, virtually erasing women form public and systematically reversing the gains Afghan women had achieved over the past two decades.

Afghan women can no longer get outside of their homes without the fear of getting arrested. If they dare to go outside alone or talk to someone not related by blood or marriage, they will be detained, prosecuted on charge of moral crimes, and will be subjected to public and private flogging. Dozens of women are being flogged on daily basis on ideological grounds. These repressive, inhumane and degrading measures are harming Afghan girls and women permanently on a scale unimaginable.

Your Excellency,

Under the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan 8.92 million students, 3.38 million of whom were female, had enrolled at 15, 572 schools in 2012-2013 academic year. It was a remarkable achievement compared to less than one million students Afghanistan had in pre-2001-era.

In 2018 the enrolment number rose to around 10 million with the number of girls in primary school increasing from almost zero in 2001 to 2.5 million in 2018.

In 2020, Afghanistan had 172 higher education institutions with 39 public and 128 private. These universities provided enrolment opportunities for 422, 869 students, out of which 53% were in private and 47%, were in public higher education institutions.

Many steps were also taken to enhance the quality and gender equity in education. These achievements were not possible without generous support provided by the international community.

The reemergence of Taliban as the governing force has put all achievements related to education in serious risk. They have reversed much of the progress made in the past two decades, which is the cause of great concerns among the Afghan people, and in particular among the women and girls, lecturers and researchers.

The Taliban’s approach towards women’s education not only violates the human fundamental rights (Articles 26 & 27, Universal Declaration of Human Rights), but it is also clearly against the Islamic values and orders. Islam urges both men and women to seek knowledge. This is why Islamic countries have unanimously condemned the Afghan Taliban’s ban on higher education for women and girls. What is happening in Afghanistan is a gender apartheid and may amount to a crime against humanity.

Furthermore, as SDG 4 indicates, an inclusive and quality education for all women is an important element in promoting peace and prosperity for people and planet. Girls’ education is is also interlinked to the realization of many other goals, from achieving No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and wellbeing, to Gender Equality, Descent Work and Economic Growth, Reduced Inequalities, and Peace and Justice. With this in mind, the Taliban’s prohibition of education to half of the Afghan population is a decision that has disastrous consequences for the future of Afghanistan and will drive more Afghans to leave the country.

Beside the ban on women’s education, the Taliban’s ongoing efforts to radicalize school and university curricula is another matter of high concern. The proposed changes will replace scientific subjects and modules with hard-line content in an effort to radicalize Afghanistan’s children and the young generation.

I welcome Her Excellency Amina Jane Muhammad’s recent visit to Afghanistan on 18-19 January 2023. While I am deeply thankful to her and the accompanying delegates for discussing women’s rights to work and education with the Taliban leadership, given the Taliban’s lack of interest in international relations, education, and progress, I believe that they would remain reluctant to make any meaningful change towards girls’ education.

Therefore, I call on the United Nations and its member countries to:

  • Stay in solidarity with the Afghan women and support them in protecting their rights and freedoms. The UN and international community should increase their diplomatic pressure on the Taliban regime to reverse the multiple bans. Women must be allowed to work and to move freely, and girls must be allowed to continue to go to school and university. The norms and principles which are fundamental for the progress of the higher education should be maintained.
  • Continue and increase its support and assistance for Afghan female students as well as Afghan lecturers and researchers by providing more scholarship programs for education and research, and supporting home schooling and online platforms or academies for sustaining the female education in Afghanistan. Online education offers unique and essential teaching and learning opportunities for women and girls who have been prevented from both teaching and attending the university classes.
  • Provide urgent protection measures and support to the protesting professors and lecturers who continue to defy Taliban’s order. Responding to the unjust and immoral ban on women education, several university professors and lecturers have resigned from public and private universities. While they are continuously growing in numbers in submitting their resignation letters, I am deeply concerned about their security. Their resignation was considered by the Taliban as an objection to Islam, which means they may face brutal punishment or detainment if they are not back to university. Thus, it is requested that they be provided with protection as well as financial support as they are losing their jobs.
  • Ban all supports to the Taliban (direct or indirect). Taliban must be held responsible for their actions and faced with more pressure and sanctions under international human rights law. The international community is misled by the Taliban’s false promises and is awaiting for more than one year and half for the Taliban to respect human rights. They, however, continue to ignore almost all human rights standards. It is time to step up efforts to ensure accountability for violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law. Impunity will further violations and deteriorate the human rights situation in the country.
  • While online education for women and girls in Afghanistan is very valuable and must be established and maximized, its value, however, might be affected by the limitations on access to the internet and its unreliability within Afghanistan. Therefore, it is further recommended that international opportunities be urgently created, on a considerable scale, so that a large cohort of women and girls can study abroad.
  • Until the Taliban take significant steps in respecting human rights including by reopening girls’ schools and universities and until the time that it gets ready for an intra-Afghan dialogue on future political system and building a broad based and representative government, they should not be on a path to recognition.

As a former minister serving Afghanistan’s young generation under the internationally-recognized Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, I remain increasingly concerned about the long-term repercussions of the Taliban’s continued crackdown on women, girls, and minority groups. The Taliban’s reckless and repressive violations may continue if the United Nations and the international community do not resort to stronger punitive measures. The academic community of Afghanistan is hopeful to get a positive response.

I avail my best wishes.

Dr. Abas Basir

Former Minister of Higher Education of Afghanistan and the following scholars:

1.Dr. Mohad Qasim Wafayzada, Former Minister, Ministry of Infromation&Culture

2.Sayed Farhad Shahid Zada, Former Deputy Minister of Higher Education

3.Dr. M. Osman Babury, Former Chancelor, Kabul University

4.Dr. Abdulla Fayez, Former Chancelor, Heart University

5.Dr. Abdul Aziz Mohebi, Former Chancelor, Bamian University

6.Dr. M. Jawad Salehi, Former Chancellor, Gawharshad University

7.Dr. Mohammad Aziz Bakhtyari, Ex-Chancellor, Kateb University

8.Dr. Faizullah Jalal, Ex-Vice Chancellor, Kabul University

9.Dr. Salim Saay, Ex- Director of Information & Technology, Ministry of Higher Education

10.Hamid Obaidi, Former Spokesman, Ministry of Higher Education

11.Dr. Zakir Hussain Ershad, Ex-Vice Chancellor, Avicenna University

12.Mohammad Hadi Akbari, Advisor, Ministry of Higher Education

13.Abdul Ali Nekhat

14.Abdul Aziz Javid

15.Abdul Rashid Ahmadi

16.Abdul Wasie Rahraw Amzad

17.Abdullah Halim

18.Ahmad Omid Rashiq

19.Ahmad Shekib Nikfar

20.Ahmad Zia Feroz Poor

21.Ali Ahmad Kaveh

22.Ali Akbar Nasiri

23.Ali Atayee

24.Ali Hekmati

25.Ali Khan Yazdani

26.Ali Omid

27.Ali Reza Mahdian

28.Aliyawar Farid

29.Amina Ahmadi

30.Ara Hussaini

31.Arif Bahram

32.Arif Rezayee

33.Assadullah Ehsani

34.Assadullah Zairi

35.Azizullah Aziz


37.Basir Ahmad Danishyar

38.Bonyad Omid

39.Dawood Rasa

40.Dr. Masuma Waezi

41.Dr. Abdul Hamid Noori

42.Dr. Abdulkhaliq Qasimi

43.Dr. Abdullah Danish

44.Dr. Alireza Rohani

45.Dr. Anwar Mohaqeq

46.Dr. Arif Sahar

47.Dr. Assadullah Amiri

48.Dr. Azizullah Kazimi

49.Dr. Dawood Mirzayee

50.Dr. Esmatullah Sharifi

51.Dr. Fatima Ahmadi

52.Dr. Gillian Wylie, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

53.Dr. Ghulam Sakhi Ehsani

54.Dr. Jafar Ehsani

55.Dr. Javid Fazli

56.Dr. Hafiz Shariati

57.Dr. Hassan Ali Anwari

58.Khalilullah Habibi

59.Dr. Kava Jebran

60.Dr. Mahdi Safdari

61.Dr. Mahdi Sedaqat

62.Dr. Maryam Sultanis

63.Dr. Marzia Mohammadi

64.Dr. Marzia Sultani

65.Dr. Mehri Rezayee

66.Dr. Mohammad Ahmadi

67.Dr. Mohammad Ali Bayani

68.Dr. Mohammad Aziz Nishat

69.Dr. Mohammad Esmaeel Ammar

70.Dr. Mohammad Jawad Asghari

71.Dr. Mohammad Jawad Borhani

72.Dr. Mohammad Musa Akbari

73.Dr. Mohammad Noori

74.Dr. Mohammad Reza Rezayee

75.Dr. Mohammad Qasim Elyasi

76.Dr. Mohammad Sadiq Dehqan

77.Dr. Mohammad Saleh Mosleh

78.Dr. Mohammad Shafaq Khawati

79.Dr. Mohammad Younus Toghyan Sakayee

80.Dr. Mohmmad Amin Reshadat81.Dr. Moheqqi

82.Dr. Mursal Dawoodi

83.Dr. Nasir Arian

84.Dr. Omar Sadr

85.Dr. Qudsia Frotan

86.Dr. Razia Bromand

87.Dr. Sayed Hussain Fasihi

88.Dr. Shegufa Akbharzada

89.Dr. Sina

90.Dr. Somaya Ahmadi

91.Dr. Wazir Ahmad Habibi

92.Dr. Yaqub Yasna

93.Dr. Yahya Baiza

94.Dr. Zainab Abulfaz

l95.Dr. Zamin Ali Habibi

96.Dr.Shakardokht Jafari


98.Eid Mohammad

99.Emal Sobat

100.Esmatullah Mawj

101.Farhad Sultani


103.Fatima Ibrahimi

104.Ghulam Abbas Faiazi

105.Ghulam Haidar Rezayee

106.Ghulam Reza Paikar

107.Ghulam Yahya Tahiri

108.Habibullah Sorosh

109.Hadi Kheradwarz

110.Hamid Safwat

111.Hamida Naderi

112.Hanifa Alizada

113.Hazrat Askarzad

114.Husnia Saadat Mahdawi

115.Hussain Bakhsh Nazari

116.Hussain Dad Saadat

117.Hussain Haidari

118.Jamalludin Jama

l119.Javid Baktash

120.Javid Safwat

121.Javid Sokut

122.Kazimia Mohaqeq

123.Khadija Hassani

124.Khalil Ahmad Matin

125.Khodad Mohseni

126.Kubra Zafari

127.Latifa Miran

128.Leonie O’Dowd, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Ireland

129.Mahram Ali Khalili

130.Masuma Haidari

131.Masuma Ibrahimi

132.Masuma Mohammadi

133.Mir Ahmad Parsa

134.Mohammad Alem Zafar

135.Mohammad Ashraf Bakhtiari

136.Mohammad Eisa Darwish

137.Mohammad Fayeq Latoon

138.Mohammad Fedakar

139.Mohammad Gulzari

140.Mohammad Hanif Tahiri

141.Mohammad Jawad Mohammadi

142.Mohammad Jawad Sultani

143.Mohammad Jawad Tawakoli

144.Mohammad Mohsin Rezayee

145.Mohammad Nabi Khedri

146.Mohammad Reza Faiyaz

147.Mohammad Salim Tabesh

148.Mohammad Sharif Mohammadi

149.Mohammadullah Rafie

150.Mohebullah Zafar Nezhad

151.Mohmmad Sharif Tayeebi

152.Mujaheda Khajazada

153.Mukhtar Haidari

154.Mustafa Shafiq

155.Nader Shah Soha

156.Nafisa Saeedi

157.Nargis Akhlaqi

158.Nemat Hassani

159.Poya Ghaznawi

160.Qasim Erfani

161.Qodratullah Rahmat

162.Rahima Tofan

163.Reza Shah Watandost

164.Ruknuddin Sarwari

165.Sakhi Bayramli

166.Salahuddin Samandari

167.Sayed Ashraf Gardezi

168.Sayed Murtaza Alizada

169.Sayed Nasim Rahman

170.Sayed Rasol Saadat

171.Sayed Zmary

172.Sayed Zubair Hashimi

173.Sediqa Mushtaq

174.Shafiqullah Shafiq

175.Shokria Barakzay

176.Sohaila Erfani

177.Somaya Ghulami

178.Suhaila Ahmadi

179.Suhrab Bakhtari

180.Swita Akbari

181.Yazdan Hatami

182.Zarif Hassan

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