16 months on from an initial ban on secondary-aged girls attending school, as a result of a new edict from the de facto authorities on Tuesday 20th December 2022, universities in Afghanistan have now been closed to women, deepening the erosion of women’s hard won rights in the country to an alarming level.

The costs of rollbacks on women’s full participation in public and political life cannot be overstated. Resourceful, resilient women and girls have been central to the survival of their families this past year in what the UN is calling the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. But the systematic exclusion of women means that, despite their invaluable contributions to their families and wider communities, the majority of the female population in Afghanistan now cannot gain an education, seek employment, reliably access health services, or move freely throughout the country.

We know that education is instrumental in unlocking women’s full potential, enabling their economic inclusion and participation in public life. But it is also instrumental in efforts to rebuild Afghanistan. As the country continues to endure the fallout of economic collapse, a second year of drought and acute food shortages, barring women and girls from education threatens to push the entire Afghan population into a deeper crisis.

With girls and women unable to attend school or seek a university education, there is a real risk of creating a ‘lost generation’, with a dearth of women teachers, civil servants or doctors to deliver vital basic services that are already at breaking point, impoverishing vulnerable communities even further.

Charles Davy, Afghanaid’s Managing Director, said:

“With even more limitations now placed on women’s rights in Afghanistan, we move further still from realising a peaceful and thriving society in the country. Excluding women from secondary and university education robs the entire population of a future generation of workers who can deliver vital services and enact positive change.

Afghan women and girls deserve to be able to access safe spaces to learn, to be able to dream of bright, successful careers and to have control over their futures. The right to education for all must be restored immediately. We must not leave Afghanistan’s women and girls behind.”