Taliban reopens schools in Afghanistan for boys only and repurposes women’s affairs ministry

Girls have been excluded from the reopening of secondary schools in Afghanistan despite an earlier Taliban promise not to take the country back to the dark days of the 1990s.

On Saturday the Taliban’s new education minister ordered the reopening of educational settings across the country after a month-long hiatus – but only for boys.

Girls were seen at the gates of primary schools in Kabul, but teenage girls and female teachers have yet to be allowed back into secondary classrooms.

On Friday the head of the UN’s Children’s Agency said she feared girls might be permanently excluded from their high school education.

Henrietta H. Fore said in a statement: “It is critical that all girls, including older girls, are able to resume their education without any further delays. For that, we need female teachers to resume teaching.”

In another ominous setback for women’s rights, the building that housed the Afghan Women’s Affairs Ministry has now been re-named the Vice and Virtue Ministry. It is now officially tasked with enforcing the group’s rigid interpretation of Islam.

Staff from the World Bank’s 110 million-euro Women’s Economic Empowerment and Rural Development Programme were escorted off the grounds.

A programme member, Sharif Akhtar, who was walked out with his staff, was at a loss to explain how the programme could now continue.

The Taliban members inside the new ministry said they had not been informed about if or when a new ministry for women’s affairs would be established.

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