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Aug 25 2022

The Taliban Revoked Girls School Attendance—Again. Here’s What Girls Said.

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A year after the Taliban takeover, they shocked many when they reversed their promise to allow girls to return to school.

When the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, they wanted legitimacy and aid funding from other world governments. The world was outraged by their stance on girl’s rights and girl’s education so the Taliban promised they would allow girls to return to school on March 23, 2022 the first day of the Persian New Year. When mere hours after schools opened on that day the Taliban ordered all girls in secondary school to return home, girls were devastated. 

In August 2021 when the Taliban was promising education for girls, activists were taking over twitter to caution the world from believing them. “They won’t fulfill this promise,” many said, “They’ve broken too many promises in the past—especially about girls’ education.” Peacemakers and others were saying “They’ve already taken over—we have to take this promise in good faith.” But Afghani activists were correct—it appears that the Taliban never had any intention of allowing girls above 6th grade to go to school. Although Taliban leaders deny that this is a long term situation and that there are legitimate reasons for delaying girls’ attendance to school at this time, many are doubtful. 

“The school closures would seem to answer the question on everyone’s mind since the Taliban seized control of the country last summer: “Have the Taliban really changed?” The oft-repeated answer by some in the international community was a resounding “yes.” Certainly, the Taliban said so, as did international apologists after meeting with the former insurgents behind closed doors. Skeptics of that line have been criticized for failing to accept the group’s promises about human rights. Now we have some proof from the Taliban themselves that their pledges to follow Islamic law and Afghan traditions are hollow.”

Belquis Ahmadi and Asma Ebadi, United States Institute of Peace Article, April 1, 2022

Global G.L.O.W. is not a relief organization, nor are we a politically affiliated one. However, in times of crises like this we cannot help but be frustrated by the injustice that befalls millions of girls and their families who still reside in Afghanistan. 

We are an organization who believes in elevating girl’s voices. Whilst we still have on-going programs in Afghanistan and will continue to for as long as we are able, we very intentionally do not ask for anything that may cause them to get extra attention. The quotes below are all from other sources—but they are important voices that must be heard by as many as possible: 

“Some of my classmates began weeping,” said one girl, an 18-year-old who hoped to resume her year 11 classes. “We were so excited to return. And now we don’t know what will happen to us.”

Reported in NPR article on March 23, 2022

Being a sixth grader, one girl is legally allowed to go to school, since education for girls stops at grade 7 and above. But she has decided to stay home anyway, in solidarity with her two older sisters. Her dream is to one day become a doctor.

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

What happens next? Will I start university right away? Or is there nothing after sixth grade?”

— Reported in Times Article on March 29, 2022

Another young woman who spoke to Afghan news outlet TOLO burst into tears as she described being turned away after waiting 186 days – she had counted – for school to resume. “What is our crime? That we are girls?” she raged.

— Reported in NPR article on March 23, 2022

A girl, who describes herself as a feminist, comes from a large educated family. Both of her parents attended university. Originally from Kunduz in the north of the country, the family fled Taliban violence in 2015 and relocated to Mazar-i-Sharif.

“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.

Our leaders prioritized their own interests over our lives. Now the Taliban are erasing us from society. I ask world leaders, ‘If you let us down this time, you will let millions down. Would you stay silent if the same thing happened to your daughters?’”

— Reported in Times Article on March 29, 2022

“I was overjoyed at the prospect of continuing my studies and seeing classmates and teachers after seven months,” a middle school student from a remote province in southeast Afghanistan said. “In my dawn prayer, I praised Allah for answering my prayers to continue my studies… I walked to school as fast as I could, only to be turned away at gunpoint. The sadness and despair were overwhelming.”

— Reported in United States Institute of Peace Article on April 1, 2022

On March 23, another girl helped her two younger sisters get dressed and ready to return to school.

“We were all so happy that day and sent them off to school. But then the calls started to come in. Each one said, ‘They won’t let us in and we don’t know what to do.’ Even my two brothers, in second and ninth grade, were in shock. They told me ‘Our poor sisters are not allowed to enter their classrooms’.

I can see that women in other Muslim countries, like Iraq and Pakistan, are able to study. But for some reason we are the only nation in the world where girls are gradually being denied an education.”

— Reported in Times Article on March 29, 2022

Whilst it feels disheartening to hear about this situation when there are so few options available for assisting in this complex situation, I urge you today to listen to these girls’ voices and give witness to their cries. The Taliban regime is the only Muslim country in the world that has banned girls from being educated. 

An international petition to Stand with Afghan Girls can be found here. Please sign today. Afghan Girls deserve better.  

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