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Turkey calls on Taliban to allow girls full access to education in Afghanistan

March 24, 2022 at 3:57 pm

Afghan women hold banners and taped their mouths as they gather to stage “silent protest” for their education rights at the entrance of the shopping mall opposite the Ministry of Education, in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 19, 2021. [Bilal Güler – Anadolu Agency]

Turkey has urged the Taliban government of Afghanistan to allow girls of all ages to pursue their education in the country, as the group’s leadership yesterday imposed limits on girls’ access to education based on their age.

Educational institutions in Afghanistan were officially re-opened yesterday, seven months after the Taliban took over the country and drove out the former Western-backed government.

While girls are allowed to attend classes throughout the country, the Taliban’s interim government ruled, however, that girls’ high schools and further education would remain closed until a plan is finalised “in accordance with Islamic law and Afghan culture”.

As the United Nations, aid organisations and a number of countries condemned the decision, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry also criticised the move and said in a statement yesterday that “We regret the continuation of the restriction on the participation of girls in secondary education in the new school term that started in Afghanistan today”.

READ: Turkey reopens 10 girls-only schools in Afghanistan

It added that “We call on the Interim Government of Afghanistan to allow girls of all ages to partake in education inclusively as soon as possible, first and foremost for the benefit of the Afghan people, and emphasise that we will continue to stand by the Afghan people in these difficult days.”

The Taliban’s decision to limit girls’ further education – at least in the short term – has also disappointed many who supported or accepted the return of the group to power last year, regretting that it seemed to be going back on its guarantees to allow full access to education for women.

There are also reports alleging that the major elements within the Taliban oppose the decision taken by its leadership and the Ministry of Education, and are attempting to put pressure on it to reverse the move.

Turkey itself has long aimed to work with the Taliban’s interim government and has held numerous talks with it over the months, offering diplomatic and infrastructural support on the condition that the group implements a series of guarantees, one of which is women’s full access to education.

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