It’s been just over one year since the Taliban took control of Kabul and reinstated laws that have restricted the rights of women, including stopping girls over the age of 12 from going to school. While the cost to individuals’ freedoms and livelihoods are immense, so are the financial implications for the country as a whole.
UNICEF has released estimates that the country will lose a $5.4 billion contribution to its economy as a result of stopping girls from attending secondary education in Afghanistan. That’s the equivalent to 2.5 percent of the country’s GDP. The UN body warns that by preventing young women from completing their studies and entering the job market, the government is cutting down the future working population.
According to the latest report, each year of education amounts to an increased salary of 3.9 percent. This rises to an increase of 4.7 percent for those who have completed tertiary education.
The Taliban government has said that the school closures are only “temporary”, while a new rollout plan in line with Islamic law and Afghan culture is decided, as reported by the government’s Bakhtar News Agency. Schools briefly opened again in March 2022, but it was short lived, as they shut their doors once more just a few hours later, backtracking on the decision.
The country hit lows of only six percent of girls being enrolled in secondary education when the Taliban last took control of Kabul between 1996 and 2001, according to the World Bank. In the nearly two decades since, this figure steadily grew to reach around 40 percent in 2018. The administration has said that this time round, girls and women will have opportunities for education and employment, albeit with female and male students segregated.
Despite the restrictions, some students are finding ways to continue their studies. According to a report by The Telegraph, some 300 secret schools are reported as operating within the country, serving thousands of girls.