A letter by the cabinet of ministers, confirmed by a spokesperson for the higher education ministry on Tuesday, instructed Afghan public and private universities to suspend access to female students immediately.
“You all are informed to immediately implement the mentioned order of suspending the education of females until further notice,” said a letter issued to all government and private universities, signed by the Minister for Higher Education, Neda Mohammad Nadeem.
The spokesman for the ministry, Ziaullah Hashimi, who tweeted the letter, confirmed the order to several news agencies.
However, there is confusion over whether the order is temporary or permanent. Some Islamic Emirate supporters say such restrictions have been done to preserve “national interest” and women’s “honour,” and say the education ban is only temporary because of a lack of funds and the time needed to remodel the syllabus along Islamic lines.
The announcement came as the United Nations Security Council met in New York on Afghanistan. The United States and British UN envoys both condemned the move during the council meeting.
“The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially the human rights and fundamental freedom of women and girls,” US Deputy UN Ambassador Robert Wood said.