New calls to expand Afghan scholarships
There should be an immediate expansion of international scholarships for Afghans, a leading academic rights organisation has said, following the Taliban’s decision to ban women from Afghanistan’s universities.
Videos were shared on social media of women being turned away from the country’s universities after the Taliban ordered the suspension earlier this week.
The Taliban have used barbed wire and armed guards to prevent Afghan women from entering universities. Yet, despite the intimidation, they protest alongside brave Afghan men, demanding women and girls be given their basic rights pic.twitter.com/cL8vZedI3w
— Yalda Hakim (@BBCYaldaHakim) December 21, 2022
“When this current misogynistic, corrupt, and incompetent Taliban regime ultimately falls, Afghan women will be ready to take its place”
Scholars at Risk, which advocates for academic freedom, said the move was unsurprising and called on the international community to “push back with every diplomatic means available”. It also said there should be an expansion of the international opportunities available to Afghan women.
“Absent an unimaginable reversal of Taliban policies toward women, the most effective response must be an immediate, massive, worldwide expansion of remote and in-person fellowship, scholarship and study opportunities for Afghan women and girls,” said SAR’s executive director Robert Quinn.
“All things considered, the way to deny the Taliban their objective of silencing and sentencing Afghan women to a lifetime of home confinement is to support the educational and professional ambitions of the current and future generations of Afghan women and girls, for as long as it takes, so that when this current misogynistic, corrupt, and incompetent Taliban regime ultimately falls, Afghan women will be ready to take its place.”
Some scholarships closed to Afghan nationals following the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, including the US Fulbright scholarship and the UK Chevening award. Both were later reopened to Afghan participants, although the latter only for those living outside of Afghanistan.
Other programs have launched since, such as the Qatar Afghan Scholarship Project, which supports refugees from the country to continue their education at US institutions.