Words by Shaiysta and Nilofar
It has been almost 10 months and Afghan girls are still struggling to go to school. These young women have a desire to be educated and become experts in their fields. In Afghanistan, girls’ education has always been affected due to insecurity, lack of options, and poverty. Cultural norms in particular have affected their right to an education (Bamik 2018).
Following the U.S. and NATO troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, on August 15, 2021, the Taliban took over Afghanistan and reinstated their initial government strategy. This included restricting high school education for girls. According to the VOA report, Taliban’s Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani said the Tablibanare not opposed to girls’ education. He claimed the Taliban are willing to ensure girls’ security and peace and that schools will reopen for girls over grade six if they comply to dress codes (VOA 2022). The Taliban did reopen universities to girls but with strict limitations including girls having to wear a hijab. This begs the question: why can’t the same principle be applied to high school girls?
Under the Taliban’s previous regime in Afghanistan (1996-2001), girls were not allowed to enter secondary schools. Afghan girls now are afraid they will meet the same dark fate(Karlsson and Mansory, 2007). We have interviewed almost 50 Afghan girls to know what they think of their unfortunate deprivation and what they demand. We have received heartfelt responses, reflecting their painful situation and hence, want to voice their expectations. One of the interviewed girls said, “Today, I am crying out for what is my basic right and this is not fair. It is not fair to be deprived of having a book as a friend just because I am a girl. What I want is to wear my black cloth and white scarf once again and forever.”
All of the girls we spoke to, want the Taliban to reopen schools for them so they can accomplish their goals. They all believe that education is an equal right for both men and women. In fact, in Islam, education is an obligation for both men and women as said by our prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) (Karlsson and Mansory, 2007). Therefore, the Taliban should allow girls over grade six to resume their studies as they have no logical reason to ban girls from going to school.
Afghan girls have suffered enough. All citizens of the world should stand for the rights of Afghan girls. The world cannot remain silent as this is not the case of just a girl, it is the shared pain of millions of Afghan girls who are begging for what is their incontestable right.