Several weeks after the Taliban imposed a ban on women attending colleges and universities, the United Nations met with the Taliban to plead their case to revoke the ban. United Nations envoy Markus Potzel met with Higher Education Minister Nida Mohammad Nadim and it was the first meeting between the Taliban and an international official since the ban was implemented on December 20.
The Associated Press reported that the meeting took place in Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s ban meant that both public and private colleges and universities were no longer open for women to continue their studies. The international community criticized the decision, and as the AP noted, were not limited to Western democracies. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar joined the chorus of critics of the Taliban’s decision.
Nadim said that the ban was necessary to prevent mixed-gender classes because it does not align with the Taliban’s adherence to sharia law, which is a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic practices. He criticized opponents of the college ban as trying to achieve “evil goals.”
The Taliban education minister told Potzel that the government will not reverse their ban because the ban fulfills “the wishes of Afghans who have made sacrifices for Islamic rule and the implementation of Sharia rules in the country.”
Potzel promised cooperation, while sharing his plan for female education in Afghanistan. He also met with other Taliban government officials to discuss the Taliban’s bans on female independence.
The AP noted that Nadim was “a former provincial governor, police chief and military commander” and that the minister does not believe in female education because it goes against both Islamic and Afghan values.
The Taliban’s suppression of female independence is another stark reminder of Biden’s deadly and disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, which resulted in chaotic evacuations and a deadly terrorist attack at the Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. military servicemembers. The Biden administration has not publicly declared how many Americans or Afghan allies were trapped in Afghanistan and has not acknowledged whether the U.S. government was able to extract them safely.