Women in Afghanistan can continue to study in universities, including at the postgraduate level, but classrooms will be gender-segregated and head coverings will be made compulsory.
Higher Education Minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani announced the new policies at a news conference on Sunday, a day after the Taliban raised their flag over the presidential palace, signalling the start of work of the new, all-male government announced last week.
The Taliban’s rise has stoked fears the group would turn back to the draconian rule that defined its first stint in power in Afghanistan 20 years ago. That included the denial of education for girls and women, as well as their exclusion from public life.
“We will start building on what exists today,” Haqqani said, maintaining the Taliban’s position that its attitudes, particularly towards women, have shifted in the past 20 years. The most recent statement comes as the group has sought international legitimacy following its lightning-fast offensive across the country as the United States prepared to withdraw troops by an August 31 deadline. The Taliban took Kabul on August 15. Despite the Taliban’s posturing, women have been banned from sports and the Taliban has used violence in recent days against female protesters demanding equal rights.