For women in Afghanistan, the emergence of Taliban at the helm of affairs means there will be a new way of life and the new government has started enacting and effecting several rules.
Among other unscrupulous developments, the Taliban has disclosed that Afghan universities will be segregated by gender, and a new dress code will be introduced.
In a statement, Higher Education Minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani indicated women would be allowed to study, but not alongside men. He also announced a review of the subjects students would be taught.
It would be recalled that women and girls were banned from schools and universities under Taliban rule between 1996 and 2001.
But in the current regime, the Taliban have said they will not prevent women from being educated or having jobs, but since they seized control on 15 August, they have asked all women, except those in the public health sector, to stay away from work, until the security situation improves.
The recent announcement of the higher education policy comes a day after the Taliban raised their flag over the presidential palace, signalling the beginning of their administration. They seized control from the elected government a month ago.
It would be recalled that before the Taliban took over, female students did not have to abide by a dress code, and universities were co-educational, with men and women studying side by side.
However, Haqqani was unapologetic about that change. He said “We have no problems in ending the mixed-education system. The people are Muslims and they will accept it.”
While some persons have suggested that the new rules will exclude women from education because the universities do not have the resources to provide separate classes, Haqqani insisted there are enough female teachers and that where they are not available alternatives will be found.
He said “It all depends on the university’s capacity. We can also use male teachers to teach from behind a curtain, or use technology.”
Girls and boys will also be segregated at primary and secondary schools, which was already common throughout Afghanistan. Women will be required to wear hijabs though Haqqani did not specify if additional face coverings would be made compulsory.
In the statement, the newly installed minister also noted that the subjects taught in universities will be reviewed. He said the Taliban wanted to “create a reasonable and Islamic curriculum that is in line with our Islamic, national and historical values and, on the other hand, be able to compete with other countries”.