Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace (CD4Peace) has been an active advocate for sustainable development, cultural diversity, and peacebuilding. We have closely followed the human rights situation in Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power in 2021. Recently, we are deeply concerned about Afghan women’s rights to education as a result of the Taliban breaking its promises of reopening the schools for females beyond 6th grade (around 12~13 years old).
Since the Taliban seized power in August 2021, all schools in Afghanistan had temporarily closed due to internal conflict (1). One month later, the education ministry decided to re-open schools for boys, leaving women’s educational future undetermined. During the past seven months, women in Afghanistan have been banned from seeking secondary education. On March 21, 2022, the Taliban announced that all schools would be open, which would allow women to attend secondary education. However, two days later, the Taliban reversed its decision and announced that secondary educational institutions would not be open for women. Girls beyond 6th grade are banned from seeking education, leaving many in tears and anger. The decision is claimed to be due to an ongoing debate about women attendees’ clothing attires (2). Schooling for women continues to remain shut indefinitely before the authority can put into place regulations to ensure that women attendees’ clothing is compliant with Islamic and Afghan culture.
The Taliban’s decision to continue to ban women from secondary education strongly contradicts the spirit of sustainable development. The 4th Sustainable Development Goal calls for quality education. Specifically, to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” (3). Quality education infrastructure is crucial for constructing a sustainable future. Moreover, the Taliban’s arbitrary denial of women’s right to education is a violation of the Islamic doctrine itself. The Prophet of Islam said: “Every Muslim, man and woman, is duty-bound to acquire learning” (4). Written in the book of Hadith, the tradition of the Prophet shows the importance of learning in Islam. Acquiring knowledge is necessary for the realization of God. That is why learning is held to be a duty for all. Learning increases one’s consciousness.
We continue to monitor the human rights situation in Afghanistan, and we urge the Taliban to soon fulfill its promise to guarantee all its citizens excess of quality education regardless of their gender. CD4Peace share these words in the hope that you will continue to join us in listening and raising their voices, and continue to support and stand for women’s education and rights in Afghanistan.
- Introduction, Hadith 224. Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 224. Chapter 17: The virtue of the scholars, and encouragement to seek knowledge. https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah:224