Earlier this month, the Taliban announced a ban on women attending universities in Afghanistan. This ban followed restrictions previously set into place that only allow girls to be educated until the sixth grade. Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council spoke out against this latest move from the Taliban.

The U.N. Security Council said it was “deeply alarmed” by the Taliban’s restrictions and called for “the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and girls in Afghanistan,” according to a press release.

The Taliban just announced a ban on women’s higher education — effective immediately

These restrictions “represent an increasing erosion of the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” it said. The council also expressed concern over reports that the Taliban had banned female employees of nongovernmental organizations and international organizations from going to work. This, it said, would have a significant impact on humanitarian work.

Euro News reported that some organizations are forecasting that the results of this decision could be widespread and devastating: “The ban could see millions of people facing food shortages and go without education, health care and other critical services, as half of the country relies on humanitarian aid.”

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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted Tuesday that “the latest restrictions by the Taliban on employment & education of women & girls are unjustifiable human rights violations.”

According to Euro News, the U.N. mission’s acting head Ramiz Alakbarov met with Taliban economy minister Qari Din Mohammed Hanif on Monday. Alakbarov asked the Taliban to reverse the ban. Reportedly, the Taliban justified the ban by saying that some women who worked at nongovernmental organizations were not wearing the hijab correctly.

Afghanistan’s seat at the U.N. is currently held by the country’s previous government, even though the Taliban has requested the seat, per The Associated Press. According to the Brookings Institute, only three countries have ever recognized the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan — Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Currently, no countries recognize the Taliban, per CBS News.

As the Deseret News previously reported, the new restrictions are a significant shift from before the Taliban took power again in 2021. The Guardian reported, “In the 20 years between the Taliban’s two reigns, girls were allowed to go to school and women were able to seek employment in all sectors, although the country remained socially conservative.”

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