Photo: Russell Watkins/DFID, Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Malala Yousafzai condemns Taliban’s reversal of women’s education rights

Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Prize-winning education activist, has spoken out against the Taliban’s reversal of education rights for women in Afghanistan.

According to The Independent, in a speech at the United Nations House in Abuja, Nigeria, Yousafzai said that she was “despaired” at the “complete reversal” of progress that had been made in recent years.

“Ten years ago, millions of Afghan girls were going to school,” she said. “One in three young women were enrolled in university. And now? Afghanistan is the only country in the world to ban girls and women from seeking education.”

Yousafzai recounted her own experience of suffering brutality at the hands of the Taliban, when she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 for speaking out in favor of education for girls.

“I spent two years of my childhood under the terrorism of Taliban, displaced from my home and banned from going to school because I was a girl,” she said. “I was shot and nearly killed for speaking out against these injustices.”

Yousafzai called on the international community to “step forward more boldly” in their support for women and girls in Afghanistan.

“We must not allow the Taliban to take away the dreams of an entire generation,” she said. “We must not allow them to silence the voices of women and girls.”

Thomas West, the US special representative for Afghanistan, echoed Yousafzai’s call, saying that the women and girls of Afghanistan “deserve full access to education to realize their potential.”

“On #MalalaDay, we recognize advocacy for education rights,” he said in a tweet. “Afghan women and girls are a tremendous asset to the future of Afghanistan and deserve full access to education to realize their potential.”

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 has had a devastating impact on the rights of women and girls. The Taliban has banned girls from attending school above the sixth grade, and has imposed over 50 other restrictions on women’s freedom of movement and expression.