#LetAfghanGirlsLearn trending as Taliban closed down girls’ high schools

letafghangirlslearn trending as taliban closed down girls high schools
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Publié le 1 avril 2022, par Samir | 9 h 10 min
Temps de lecture : 9 minutes

Schoolgirls in Afghanistan face extreme disappointment as Taliban orders to close down girls’ high schools after reopening, Al Jazeera reported. Schools had to reopen in the country after more than 180 days since they had shut down after the Taliban took control in August.

However, the ministry of education announced without notice that secondary schools for girls would remain closed, which ignited feelings of anger and fury among girls and parents.

‘They didn’t let me enter my school.’

Hundreds of young, ambitious Afghan girls cheerfully returned to their educational institutes on March 23 with their school bags loaded with books and some hidden dreams. But they were not allowed to enter the school premises.

Yalda Hakim, Anchor, Correspondent, and Host of BBC World News’ Impact with Yalda Hakim, posted a video of a little school girl crying bitterly over school closing news in her tweet. Another TV anchor on a leading news channel could not hold his tears when he reported the news.

« Mum, they didn’t let me enter my school. They’re saying girls aren’t allowed. » Hopes and dreams shattered once again for millions of Afghan girls left in tears and devastated by the continued Taliban ban. »

With the Taliban taking complete control over Afghanistan in August 2021, they banned most of the secondary girls’ schools. They promised to let the girls attend school when the Persian New Year started Nowruz.

In another tweet on March 30, Hakim posted:

« 194 days since the Taliban banned teenage girls from school in Afghanistan. The Taliban promised they could return last week, but they were told to go back home. They continue to be denied the right to an education. #LetAfghanGirlsLearn »

The hashtag, LetAfghanGirlsLearn, has been trending on Twitter since the news broke on social media. Malala Yousafzai, Advocate for girls’ education & women’s equality and UN Messenger of Peace, said in her tweet on March 23 under the same hashtag:

« I had one hope for today: that Afghan girls walking to school would not be sent back home. But the Taliban did not keep their promise. They will keep finding excuses to stop girls from learning – because they are afraid of educated girls and empowered women. #LetAfghanGirlsLearn »

Don’t clip the wings of your daughters

Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala’s father and a women’s rights, peace, and education activist, in his powerful statement, while sharing his opinion on the discussion, The future of girls’ education in Afghanistan at Doha Debates Town Hall, said:

« Right now, I’m asking all Afghan fathers, who are inside Afghanistan, that please, for the sake of your daughters and your future generations, rise and raise your voice and don’t clip the wings of your daughters, and.. #LetAfghanGirlsLearn »

Almost ten days have gone by since the Taliban backed off from their commitment to reopen girls’ schools for secondary-level students « until school uniforms are designed in accordance with the Afghan customs, culture, and Sharia. » This denial of promise has created discomfort among the International Community, and they have strongly protested against the Taliban. At the same time, adolescent girls have come out on the streets in the capital city of Afghanistan to condemn and protest their right to learn.

Education Ministry

Aziz Ahmad Rayan, the spokesman for the education ministry, said that the government always intended to reopen the secondary educational institutions, and they never surrendered to international elements.

« We are doing it as part of our responsibility to provide education and other facilities to our students, » Rayan said to AFP.

An old trick designed to deny women and girls their rights

Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, said, « The Taliban’s citing of Sharia and Afghan culture is an old trick designed to deny women and girls their rights. It is a completely unacceptable justification for their devastating U-turn this week, which is a blatant violation of the right to education and casts a shadow over the futures of millions of Afghan girls. Denying girls the right to education will have a far-reaching impact on Afghanistan’s prospects of social rebuilding and economic growth. »

« Amnesty International is calling on the international community to make women’s and girls’ rights to education a red line during negotiations with the Taliban de-facto authorities. The Taliban must, without further delay, allow girls of all ages to attend school and stop using cynical pretexts to further its discriminatory agenda. »

Under Taliban seize back in the 1990s, girls were not allowed to get an education, and after retaking government positions in August 2021, they repeated the same policy. Only primary-level schools for boys and girls were allowed to continue running in the country.

During the same period, Taliban officials formed a new ministry, “propagation of virtue and prevention of vice,” at the exact location where once the Women’s Affairs Ministry was present and forcefully expelled World Bank, staff members. The staff was managing a $100m Women’s Economic Empowerment and Rural Development Project. 

It was a wrong move that the Taliban took soon after they formed their government after conquering Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

Sodaba, a journalist at BBC World TV, posted a powerful picture of young secondary school girls on her Twitter and said:

“Afghan girls are unstoppable #LetAfghanGirlsLearn.”

Michelle Bachelet, UNHumanRights Chief, expressed her concern about the Taliban’s decision to ban girls from attending schools. The United Nations Human Rights office shared a tweet:

“@mbachelet shares frustration & disappointment of Afghan girls prevented from returning to school. “The women I met during my Kabul visit insisted on the equal right to quality education. » Disempowering half the population is counterproductive+unjust.”

Structural discrimination is deeply damaging.

“The denial of education violates the human rights of women and girls – beyond their equal right to education; it leaves them more exposed to violence, poverty, and exploitation. This is of grave concern at a time when the country desperately needs to overcome multiple intersecting crises. Disempowering half of Afghanistan’s population is counterproductive and unjust. Structural discrimination such as this is also deeply damaging for the country’s prospects of future recovery and development”, said Bachelet. She asked the de facto officials to respect girls’ rights to education and let all students return to school regardless of any discrimination.

The Taliban’s take on shutting down schools will create barriers to getting international donors’ recognition considering the UN was willing to fund school teachers’ payments due to the humanitarian crisis engulfed in the country. Even the Taliban’s verdict on education has not been regularly formulated, the educational institutions run across the country for males and females, but class segregation occurs on a gender basis. In Kabul, privately-operated girls’ high schools still run without interruption.

“We don’t say [schools] will be closed forever,” said Waheedullah Hashmi, external relations and donor representative with the Taliban rule.

The unexpected U-turn in girls’ education came after a series of new decisions by the Taliban that further put limitations on women from exercising their rights. The Taliban rulers also restricted people from enjoying family time in public places by ruling out gender segregation. At the same time, a travel ban on women without a male relative (mahram) came into effect on the orders of the Taliban government.

Women’s rights activists started nationwide protests.

The unjust ruling from the armed group governing Afghanistan led to several protests initiated by women’s rights activists. Several girls and women participated in the protest near the Taliban’s Ministry of Education in the capital, demanding that they revert the decision and reopen secondary schools for girls in Afghanistan.

The protesters recorded vigorous agitation on behalf of all high school girls in Afghanistan and demanded their rights to education.

“Education is our right – open the doors of girls’ schools,” they shouted during the protest.

While addressing the press conference in Kabul, Halima Nasari representing the activist community, read out a statement on behalf of four womens’ rights groups: 

“We call on the leaders of the Islamic Emirate to open girls’ schools within one week. If the girls’ schools remain closed even after one week, we will open them ourselves and stage demonstrations throughout the country until our demands are met.”

The statement also stressed the demand for the Taliban to build more educational facilities for girls in under-developed areas instead of closing down the existing ones. 

“The people can no longer tolerate such oppression. We do not accept any excuse from the authorities,” the statement said.

Zarghuna Ibrahimi, a 16-year-old student and protest attendee, demanded that women, girls, and teachers unite to raise their voices for reopening girls’ secondary schools.

“The international community should support us,” she said.

So far, the education ministry has not given an apparent reason for its policy reversal. However, senior Taliban leader Suhail Shaheel told AFP that some “practical issues” were still to be resolved before reopening the schools.

The Seyyed al-Shuhada School went under attack in 2021, and several innocent kids were killed – female students of the same school staged a protest. They asked the ruling officials not to deny them their fundamental education rights. Those students never gave up and wanted to rejoin their schools.

Videos of young Afghan girls tearing down after the news of the ban have been surfacing all over social media, and it has become a matter of International attention to end this unjust ban. All students wish to continue their education and can’t wait to return to their school facilities to achieve their dreams.

Schoolgirls could be seen recording their video messages demanding Taliban their due right to school education and reopening them at the earliest. A student from Mazar Sharif said:

“A little bit of me has died each day since the Taliban said we cannot go back to school. My heart is heavy, and I cannot sleep at night. What the Taliban are doing to us is evil, inhuman, and stupid.

Another student’s sister shared her fear and asked:

“I am terrified and sad. I’m not sure why the Taliban refused to allow my sisters to study. Is gaining knowledge a sin?

One girl from Kunduz who plans to pursue teaching as her career was not happy with the Taliban’s erratic order on school closure. She said:

“My family was among the millions who sacrificed and scrimped and saved to send their daughters to school. Now I don’t know if I will ever be able to repay them for what they did for me all these years. I’ve seen fathers work so hard to send their boys and girls to school, make something of themselves, and not depend on others. Now that’s all gone.

The peace that America, the international community, and the Taliban talk about is killing our souls and dreams. The world needs to take action and pressure the Taliban to open schools. If we do not stop the Taliban now, everything we worked for will vanish in the blink of an eye. In a single day, these people set us back 20 years.

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