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Statements Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Comment by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on reported ban on women attending university in Afghanistan

21 December 2022

March and rally in support of Afghan women's rights, in London, Britain, 27 November 2022. ©REUTERS/Toby Melville



The reported decision by the de facto authorities in Afghanistan to ban women from attending university is another appalling and cruel blow to the rights of Afghan women and girls and a deeply regrettable setback for the entire country.

The systematic exclusion of women and girls from virtually all aspects of life, as I have noted before, is unparalleled in the world. To exclude women from tertiary education is all the more heart-breaking considering the vital contribution Afghan women have made in so many professional and vocational areas over the years.

Coming on top of girls being barred from attending secondary school, just think of all the female doctors, lawyers and teachers who have been, and who will be, lost to the development of the country.

The suspension of women’s participation in tertiary and higher education is in clear violation of Afghanistan’s obligations under international law. The rights of women and girls to access all levels of education without discrimination is fundamental and unquestionable.

I call on the Afghan de facto authorities immediately to reverse this decision and to fully respect and facilitate the right of women and girls to access education at all levels. For their sake and for the sake of the whole of Afghan society.


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