Afghanistan’s female students set to return to school as Taliban reopen universities

Afghanistan’s female students set to return to school as Taliban reopen universities
FILE PHOTO: A displaced Afghan woman holds her child as she waits with other women to receive aid supply outside an UNCHR distribution center on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

The backstory:

  • In August of last year, United States President Joe Biden led the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. And by the end of that month, the US had evacuated all American troops.
  • Once the American military pulled out and the Taliban took over, billions in foreign aid, which accounted for 40% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), disappeared almost immediately, with US sanctions preventing humanitarian funding into the country.
  • The West is now struggling to balance between not wanting to legitimize the Taliban – which has been declared a terrorist group – and wanting to assist with the country’s humanitarian crisis. And as a result, the US is working with groups to find ways to bypass these sanctions and try to ensure that the money falls into the right hands.
  • This comes after many have reported a worsening humanitarian crisis in the country since the takeover, with United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres last week warning that Afghanistan was “hanging by a thread."
  • Meanwhile, the Taliban is hoping for international recognition and legitimization.

The development:

  • There are a few. The European Parliament is currently hosting a two-day high-level conference that ends Wednesday to discuss the “worrying” situation for women in Afghanistan since the takeover.
  • On Wednesday, the US also told international banks that they could transfer money to Afghanistan for humanitarian purposes. It added that aid groups are allowed to pay teachers and healthcare workers at government institutions, like hospitals, without fear of breaching the sanctions put in place.
  • According to Ahmad Massoud, a Kabul University professor, the Taliban is reassessing some of the rules it has about women and their rights to try and gain that international recognition, lift the sanctions and access funds that the US has frozen.
  • After nearly six months, the Taliban will begin reopening state universities and allowing female students to return to classrooms on Wednesday in areas not experiencing extreme winter temperatures, according to Mohammad Edris, an assistant to the Minister of Higher Education Abdul Baqi Haqqani.
  • However, the classrooms will be segregated by gender in adherence to strict Islamic laws, and female students will need to be veiled from head to toe.

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