‘Devastating day’ for Afghan girls says Malala Yousafzai on Taliban U-turn on reopening schools for girls

Taliban ‘will keep finding excuses... because they are afraid of educated girls,’ says Nobel laureate

Stuti Mishra
Thursday 24 March 2022 15:58
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'It is a devastating day', Malala Yousafzai says about Taliban’s U-turn on schools for girls

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai has called the Taliban’s U-turn on allowing girls to go back to school a “devastating day” for them, adding that the regime will continue to make excuses to prevent girls from receiving an education.

Ms Yousafzai, who was shot by Pakistan’s Tehrik-e-Taliban for advocating education for girls, said Afghanistan’s Taliban regime envisions a future where half the population will remain “held back” and not be educated.

“I had one hope for today: that Afghan girls walking to school would not be sent back home. But the Taliban did not keep their promise,” she tweeted on Wednesday.

“They will keep finding excuses to stop girls from learning – because they are afraid of educated girls and empowered women.”

In an interview with BBC World News’ Yalda Hakim, Ms Yousafzai said what the Taliban is doing was not shocking at all because activists had seen them make such reversals before.

“It is such a devastating day, for them, for us, because the Taliban made a promise that they’ll allow girls to go to schools,” she said, adding that “most of us were sceptic about it”.

“We know that the Taliban will continue to make excuses to prevent girls from learning, we are not unfamiliar with that,” she further said.

“We have heard it in the past, we heard it back in 1996, we heard it in the Swat Valley as well and we hear it even today in 2022, that they will prevent girls from their education, they will use the excuse of uniform, walking to school, separation and segregated classrooms and female teachers,” she pointed out.

“These excuses are nothing new that we are hearing. I don’t think that Afghanistan will see the peace and progress it deserves. It’s heartbreaking.”

The comments from Ms Yousafzai come as the Taliban rulers decided against opening schools to girls above the sixth grade, in a U-turn from an earlier decision announced by the Taliban’s education ministry last week that “all students” were urged to come to school as the country would begin a new school year.

Afghanistan’s television channels showed visuals of girls breaking down upon finding out about the U-turn.

Girls have been banned from school beyond primary education in the country ever since the Taliban wrested power from the western-backed government in August.

While the hardliner regime has been trying to create more acceptance for itself internationally amid a worsening humanitarian crisis in the country, promising to be different from how it ruled the country earlier, the U-turn appears to be an attempt to pacify the rural and tribal backbone of the hardline Taliban movement, that has been reluctant to send girls to schools.

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