Weekly Highlights

Government must take a strong stand on Afghanistan’s female education ban.

I urge Foreign Minister, Dato’ Sri Saifuddin Abdullah, and Malaysia’s special envoy to the Middle East, Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang, to pressure the Taliban administration in Afghanistan to withdraw their decision to close girls’ high schools in the region, a decision which has effectively crippled the education and future of girls in Afghanistan.

We are disheartened to learn that the Taliban administration in Afghanistan has announced that girls’ high schools will be closed, hours after they reopened for the first time in nearly seven months. The backtracking by the Taliban means female students above the sixth grade will not be able to attend school. The schools for girls would be closed until a plan was drawn up in accordance with Islamic law and Afghan culture.

The last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, it banned female education and most female employment. This long standing problem had already done enough damage to the lives of girls and women in Afghanistan.

Only a month ago, in February 2022, Abdul Hadi Awang met Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan permanent representative of the United Nations Sheikh Mohammed Suhail Shaheen in Qatar. In that meeting, Malaysia pledged to help Afghanistan with humanitarian and economic assistance, including aid to redevelop the country.

Furthermore, Malaysian humanitarian aid NGOs had already been in Kabul and other provinces in Afghanistan since the United States and its allies withdrew on Aug 31 last year. Malaysia has also been actively encouraging the Malaysian private sector to explore investment and trade opportunities in Afghanistan.

Saifuddin and Abdul Hadi must take a firm stand on girls’ education and urge the Taliban government to let the girls return to school. If they turn a blind eye to the plight of girls in Afghanistan, they are also effectively sending a message about girls and women education in Malaysia.

Teo Nie Ching,

DAP Publicity Secretary and Member of Parliament for Kulai

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