The Taliban say they have reopened public universities for women students in six of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, a move marking a major concession to international demands by the country’s new rulers, reported news agency Associated Press.
Since they swept into power in mid-August, the international community has watched to see whether the Taliban will impose the same harsh measures as during their 1990s rule of Afghanistan, including banning girls from education and women from the workplace and public life.
The Taliban have imposed several restrictions, many of them on women, since their takeover – women have been banned from many jobs outside the health and teaching sector and girls have not been able to go to school after year six.
The Taliban demand women wear headscarves but have stopped short of imposing the burqa, the head-to covering that was compulsory under their previous rule.
The Taliban-run culture and information ministry said on Wednesday that public universities in the provinces of Nangarhar and Kandahar were now open for women in what it described as a staggered process expected to allow all students – men and women – eventually to return to university.
Later in the day, the Taliban spokesman for the ministry of higher education, Ahmad Taqqi, said public universities also reopened on Wednesday for women in four more provinces – Helmand, Farah, Nimroz, and Laghman.
The six provinces have warmer climates, which the Taliban say is the reason they are the first to reopen.
Men will attend classes in the morning and women in the afternoon, aligning with a gender-segregated system under the Taliban.