By M Niaz Asadullah, Professor of Development Economics at the University of Malaya, Malaysia and Southeast Asia Lead of the Global Labor Organization (GLO).
Since the return of the Taliban to power, concerns are growing over girls’ education in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Many Taliban Ministers were educated in madrasas in neighboring Pakistan. It is likely, therefore, that the emphasis on Koranic education and Islamic teachings will rise up again in Afghanistan. Many are worried that secular schools will shut down. Girls may end up presented with a choice: sit at home or be sent to madrasas.
But an emphasis on an education system compliant with the Shariah system does not necessarily mean an end to girls’ education. Taliban leaders now recognize the need for girls’ schooling but insist on complete gender segregation. This is confirmed by a major shift among the leadership which recently announced that Afghan women deserve to be in universities just as men, even if only on the condition that university classrooms remain strictly single-sex and aided by same sex teachers. Their demands also include restrictions on dress codes or forced purdah practice and ban on women’s participation in sports.Continue reading