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Iran Foreign Ministry calls on Taliban to reverse ban on university education for female Afghans

Nasser Kan'ani, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman has expressed regret about a recent decision by the Taliban-run administration in Afghanistan to close universities to female Afghan students, calling on the de facto government’s authorities to reverse the ban.

Nasser Kan'ani made the remarks on Thursday, a day after female university students in Afghanistan were banned entry to campuses following a directive from the Taliban that women would be suspended from higher education across the country until further notice.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran, as a neighbor of Afghanistan which is interested in peace, stability and development in the country, is saddened to hear the news obstacles to girls and women's higher education in Afghanistan,” Kan'ani said.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran hopes that the relevant authorities in Afghanistan will swiftly remove the obstacles and provide the ground for resuming the education of the country’s female pupils and students in all levels so that they can play a more effective role in the development and prosperity of Afghanistan while benefiting from the right to education,” he added.

Female Afghan students said on Wednesday that they were sent back home after they went to attend their classes at universities.

Taliban officials had ordered the nationwide ban on university education for Afghan women, with a letter — made public by the spokesman for the Ministry of Higher Education, Ziaullah Hashmi  — outlining that the measure would take effect immediately in private and public universities.

Afghanistan’s female students protest Taliban's decision

On Thursday morning, dozens of female students staged a protest near Kabul University in the west of the capital, calling for women and girls’ access to education and work.

Local media reports said about 50 mainly female protestors assembled while chanting and holding banners that read, "Education is our right, universities should be opened."

“I am a student in a private university and it was my last semester,” said Laila, a university student. “I am so sad about the closure of universities because I have collected funds for it for a long time to invest it in education.” 

“We call on the caretaker government to reopen universities for all women because we are facing an uncertain future,” said Tamana, another university student. 

On Wednesday, students in Nangahar University in eastern Afghanistan also protested and male medical students walked out of exams in protest at their female classmates being excluded.

The European Union in a statement called the decision by the Taliban government another violation of international obligations and said it constitutes an institutionalized and systematic “discrimination against women and girls.”

“Every child should have access to both primary and secondary education without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s religion, sex, ethnic or social origin, disability, or any other status,” the statement read, adding that the Afghan women are essential for the prosperity and stability of the country.

The United Nations special rapporteur to Afghanistan also stated on Wednesday that the ban was “a new low, further violating the right to equal education and deepens the erasure of women from Afghan society.”

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