Malala demands Taliban lets girls go back to school in open letter

‘You promised you would respect their rights’: Malala demands Taliban lets girls go back to school in open letter to brutal regime’s leaders that is signed by more than 650,000 people

  • New Taliban government in Afghanistan has banned girls from attending school
  • Women’s rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai has demand end to de facto ban
  • In an open letter she said the group were ‘denying millions their right to learn’
  • More than 650,000 have signed a joint petition written by Malala and other rights advocates
  • The 24-year-old Nobel Prize winner was shot by Pakistan Taliban in 2012

Malala has written a letter to the Taliban demanding they let girls in Afghanistan return to school.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was shot by the group’s Pakistani outshoot, urged the country’s new rulers to stop ‘denying millions their right to learn’.

It has been one month since the hardline Islamist Taliban, which seized power in August, excluded girls from returning to secondary school while ordering boys back to class.

Women and girls were completely banned from schools and universities under the previous Taliban rule between 1996 and 2001.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban’s Pakistani outshoot in 2012, urged Afghanistan’s new rulers to stop ‘denying millions their right to learn’

After taking back control in August, the group ordered male teachers and boys aged 13 and over back to secondary schools, but made no mention of women teachers or girl pupils, creating a de facto ban.

In an open letter on Sunday, Malala and other Afghan women’s rights activists wrote: ‘To the Taliban authorities…reverse the de facto ban on girls’ education and re-open girls.’ 

She called on the leaders of Muslim nations to make it clear to the Taliban that ‘religion does not justify preventing girls from going to school’.

In an open letter on Sunday, Malala and other Afghan women’s rights activists wrote: ‘To the Taliban authorities…reverse the de facto ban on girls’ education and re-open girls’

‘Afghanistan is now the only country in the world that forbids girls’ education,’ said the writers, who included the head of the Afghan human rights commission under the last US-backed government Shaharzad Akbar.

The Taliban have claimed they will allow girls to return once they have ensured security and stricter segregation under their interpretation of Islamic law – but many are sceptical. 

Images from some schools in Kabul show women have in places  return to classes, although these are segregated and have not necessarily been sanctioned by the Taliban.

The letter’s authors also called on G20 world leaders to provide urgent funding for an education plan for Afghan children.

‘Discussing the importance of education isn’t enough,’ read the letter. ‘Use the G20 Leaders’ Declaration to call on the Taliban to allow girls to go to school and provide urgent funding.’

A petition alongside the letter had on Monday received more than 650,000 signatures.

It has been one month since the hardline Islamist Taliban, which seized power in August, excluded girls from returning to secondary school while ordering boys back to class

Pictured: Afghan girls attend a class at a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, in September. They are segregated from boys and are taught different subjects

Yousafzai, has been a long-time advocate for women’s rights to an education and was shot in the face by gunmen from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, an offshoot of the Afghan Taliban, in her home town in the Swat valley while on a school bus in 2012.

Her life was saved in a five-hour operation and she spent months recovering from the attack, partly at a Birmingham hospital. 

She was the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her advocacy.

Now 24 years old, she advocates for girls’ education, with her non-profit Malala Fund having invested £1.5million in Afghanistan.

Malala’s letter to the Taliban in full

‘To the Taliban and leaders around the world:

One month ago, the Taliban shut school gates for millions of Afghan girls — robbing them of not just an education but also their futures.

Afghanistan is now the only country in the world that forbids girls’ education. Leaders everywhere must take urgent, decisive action to get every Afghan girl back in school.

  • To the Taliban authorities, you assured the world that you would respect the rights of girls and women — but you are denying millions their right to learn. Reverse the de facto ban on girls’ education and re-open girls’ secondary schools immediately.
  • To the leaders of the G20 nations, discussing the importance of education isn’t enough. Use the G20 Leaders’ Declaration to call on the Taliban to allow girls to go to school and provide urgent funding to support a coordinated education plan for all Afghan children.
  • To the leaders of Muslim countries, religion does not justify preventing girls from going to school. Make this clear to Taliban leaders by issuing public statements on the Islamic imperative for girls’ complete education.

The longer a girl stays out of school, the less likely she is to return. Join us in calling on leaders around the world to defend Afghan girls’ right to learn and lead.

  

        Sincerely,

        Zarqa Yaftali, Malala Yousafzai, Shaharzad Akbar’

 

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