The UN condemns the Taliban’s decision not to reopen schools for all girls

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said in a statement that “the de facto authorities’ failure to honor commitments to reopen schools for girls from the sixth form – despite repeated commitments to girls’ education, even during my visit to Kabul two weeks ago is deeply damaging to Afghanistan.

The distance from the classrooms, their uncertainty

Denial of education violates the human rights of women and girls, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Secondary schools were due to open their doors to girls across the country after the winter break; however, Taliban officials reportedly stood down early Wednesday, pending a decision on the uniforms they should wear.

“Denial of education violates the human rights of women and girls: overrides their right to education, leaving them more exposed to violence, poverty and exploitationBachelet explained.

Afghanistan’s future is at stake

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed deep regret over the Taliban’s suspension of high school girls’ return to school.

“The start of the new academic year has been anticipated by all students, boys and girls, as well as parents and families,” Guterres said. He added that the Taliban’s sudden move not to reopen classrooms“despite his repeated commitments, is a deep disappointment and this deeply hurts Afghanistan.

“Denying education not only violates the equal rights of women and girls to education, but also threatens the future of the country because of the enormous contribution of Afghan women and girls.

“I call on the de facto Taliban to reopen schools to all students without further delay.”

© UNICEF/Azizullah Karimi

Girls at a learning center in Gulab Hail village in Maidan Wardak province, Afghanistan.

The determination of the Afghans

Michelle Bachelet recalled that during her recent visit to Kabul, the women expressed their desire to speak to the Taliban alone.

The women told her they had “the information, the solutions and the capacity to help chart a way out of this economic crisis, human rights crisis and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.”

“They demanded equal rights to quality education in primary, secondary and tertiary education and looked forward to today’s re-opening of classrooms.”

structural discrimination

At a time when Afghan citizens are suffering the effects of multiple crises, the senior UN official described the decision as “very worrying”.

“Taking half of the Afghan population out of power is counterproductive and unjust,” Bachelet said, adding that “structural discrimination like this is also deeply damaging to the country’s prospects for recovery and development.”

Finally, Bachelet called on the Taliban to “respect the right to education of all girls and reopen schools to all girls without discrimination or further delay“.

dashed hopes

For her part, the executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Catherine Russell, issued a statement in which she described the decision as “a major setback for girls and their future.”

“Millions of high school girls in Afghanistan woke up today hoping to go back to school and continue their education. Their hopes, however, were not long in being dashed,’ complained Russell.

The Taliban’s decision nullifies “the right of an entire generation of adolescent girls to an education and deprives them of the opportunity to acquire the skills they need to build a future,” he added.

She also called on the de facto authorities to fulfill their “commitment to girls’ education without further delay” and asked leaders from all over Afghanistan to advocate for the education of adolescent girls.

All boys and girls deserve to go to school. This is the surest way to steer the country on a safer path to the peace and prosperity that the people of Afghanistan deserve,” concluded the UNICEF Director.

sad decision

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) responded to the news with a tweet condemning “today’s announcement by the Taliban to indefinitely extend the ban on girls above sixth grade from attending school.”

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