Many Taliban leaders disagree with severe restrictions on women, UNICEF says

The UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) representative in Afghanistan, Fran Equiza, said in an interview with EFE News on Thursday that many Taliban leaders oppose the prohibition of education beyond primary school for girls, but the group’s supreme leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, wants to continue with the ban.

In his meetings with Taliban leaders, Fran Equiza said that he has discovered that the “vast majority of ministers and provincial governors” are against discontinuing girls’ education after elementary school.

The authority to relax or remove restrictions on women and girls, Fran Equiza said, rests with the group’s supreme leader.

“To reestablish the right of girls to continue their education in high school, the Taliban continue to demand three things: that classes be segregated by sex, that female teachers instruct the girls, and that there be a dress code, things that in reality are already being done in elementary school.” Fran Equiza said.

Fran Equiza said that there is a lot of confusion about the scope of the ban on women working outside the home, and that there are numerous exceptions to the rule.

He clarified that the Taliban’s ban on women working outside the home does not apply to the health and education sectors. The Taliban understands that women are needed to teach girls and to provide health services for other women.

Fran Equiza has not named the Taliban officials who disagree with Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada. But the group’s officials have consistently defended restrictions on women and girls.