NEW YORK: On the International Day of Education, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called on the Taliban in Afghanistan to reverse the ban on girls' access to secondary and higher education.
Calling education a fundamental right, Guterres said that now is the time for all nations to ensure taking actual steps to develop welcoming and inclusive learning environments for all.
"Now is also the time to end all discriminatory laws and practices that hinder access to education. I call on the de facto authorities in Afghanistan in particular to reverse the outrageous and self-defeating ban on access to secondary and higher education for girls," the official spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General said in a release.
Taking to Twitter, Guterres also tweeted and said, "Now is the time to end all discriminatory laws and practices that hinder access to education."
The theme of this year's International Day of Education reminds us "to invest in people, prioritize education," the official release of the UN added. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decided to dedicate the International Day of Education 2023 to Afghan girls and women, TOLOnews quoted director-general of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay as saying.
According to UNESCO, currently, around 80 per cent of school-aged Afghan girls and young women are out of school under the Taliban rule, as they denied them access to secondary schools and universities.
After the Taliban ordered an indefinite ban on university education for Afghan girls, several humanitarian organizations, including Education Cannot Wait (ECW), a United Nations global, billion-dollar fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises called on the Taliban authorities in Kabul to revoke their decision to suspend the university education of Afghan women.
The ECW called on the interim Taliban government to allow all girls to return to education, saying that the UN-led humanitarian body stands in solidarity with women in Afghanistan and added that each one has an inherent human right to education. OCHA announced on Tuesday that now 1.1 million Afghan girls are banned from secondary school and more than 100,000 others are banned from universities.
Furthermore, US mission charge d'affaires, Karen Decker tweeted, "It is difficult to commemorate the International Day of Education today knowing Afghan women & girls are now denied this right. Education is an investment in Afghanistan's future and must be available to boys and girls." On December 24, the de facto authorities issued a decree banning women from working in NGOs, TOLOnews reported.
This came after they had already suspended university education for women and secondary schooling for girls until what they termed further notice.
Since 15 August 2021, the Taliban have barred girls from attending secondary school, restricted women and girls' freedom of movement, excluded women from most areas of the workforce and banned women from using parks, gyms and public bath houses. These restrictions culminate with the confinement of Afghan women and girls to the four walls of their homes.