Reviews | The world must demand that the Taliban stop restricting girls’ education

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Just hours after girls’ high schools in Afghanistan reopened for the first time in nearly seven months, the Taliban ordered them closed, sparking much grief and outrage, but no substantive politics or political repercussions. This must change.

At a United Nations conference for Afghanistan on Thursday, leaders lined up to reiterate their condemnations, but failed to draw a red line: a date by which the Taliban must reopen middle and high schools for girls. and to ensure that every Afghan girl can receive the education she deserves.

These must be prerequisites for the international community’s continued engagement with the Taliban – and they cannot be allowed to use girls’ education as a bargaining chip. The repercussions of the Taliban’s decision should be swift and strong, but Afghan citizens must not be the victims. The United States should use its influence with governments in the region to sanction the international travel of Taliban leaders and restrict access to Taliban financial assets.

The United States and countries in the region should further integrate girls’ education, women’s employment, and the basic human rights of Afghan women into their diplomatic and economic negotiations with the Taliban. Afghanistan’s neighbors should warn the Taliban that these issues are crucial if they are to be recognized as peers in the region.

The international legitimacy that the Taliban so desperately seeks is seriously undermined by its decision to restrict girls’ education, which violates obligations to which Afghanistan is a state party, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women, the International Covenant on Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

With the grave humanitarian crisis understandably dominating the conversation at Thursday’s donor conference, world leaders should seek other opportunities to explore financial support for alternative education models that would allow Afghan girls to receive a lifelong education. ‘a way the Taliban cannot control, or stop and start as they please.

Excluding any girl from education should be fundamentally unacceptable. Afghan girls deserve the same rights and opportunities as Afghan boys, and their exclusion should be an unchanging red line for the international community. By breaking their commitment to Afghan girls, the Taliban sends the message that they have not evolved over the past two decades as they claim.

That admission alone should send a shiver down the spine of world leaders who fear that Afghanistan is becoming a hotbed of terrorism. Persuading the Taliban to reverse their decision is essential for regional and international security, because girls’ education is not only about literacy and job skills, but also about mobility, tolerance, conflict resolution and rights. basic human rights – the core of a peaceful society – and preventing the normalization of extremism and terrorism.

Finally, the leaders of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia and other predominantly Muslim countries should defend girls’ education and reject the Taliban’s invocation of Islam to justify the closure of girls’ schools.

In the Muslim faith, education is a divine commandment for men and women. All the sacred sources of Islamic teaching – the Koran, the Hadith and the Sunnah – leave no doubt that women, like men, are obliged to deepen their knowledge and pursue it. The education of girls and women is a requirement of masalih mursalah, or the pursuit of the public good, as educating girls has significant benefits for their families, their communities, and the entire Muslim community globally. – the ummah.

Other predominantly Muslim countries prioritize girls’ education. In Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Libya, more girls than boys attend secondary school. Girls in Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia have very high literacy rates, and women in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa are obtaining university degrees in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) often at higher rates than their American counterparts. and European counterparts.

There is no excuse for the Taliban’s decision against girls’ education, and while world leaders may not have as much influence as they would like, they certainly do have enough to bring those girls back. girls in the classrooms.

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