In many regions in northern Afghanistan, the Taliban have permitted middle and high-school girls to continue their education, demonstrating how the Islamist group's stances on critical subjects are impacted by cultural variations within the nation.
The Taliban reopened secondary schools for male students across Afghanistan in September but made no mention of their female counterparts.
This resulted in a de facto prohibition on girls continuing their education after the sixth grade. Boys and girls are taught separately in elementary schools, which have reopened to the public.
Selected Afghanistan provinces open secondary schools for girls
Secondary schools for women have reopened with the consent of local Taliban government officials in four northern Afghan districts, where women have historically played a more prominent part in society than in the more conservative south and east.
Teachers, students, and a Taliban spokesperson all verified the decision, which was not publicly reported, as per Wall Street Journal.
Unlike in the 1990s, when they enforced strict social norms on everyone under their authority, the Taliban appear to be willing to construct policy around cultural variations across Afghanistan.
In the provinces of Sar-e-Pul and Jawzjan, schools for teenage girls have reopened, with Taliban representatives frequently visiting. Not all female students have returned to class, even where schools have reopened.
According to the administrator of one school in the northern city of Kunduz, a third of the 3,000 kids are missing. A large number of families have left the city. Others are skeptical of local Taliban claims that girls will be permitted to attend school.
Some parents are concerned that Taliban fighters would harass their adolescent daughters as they walk to school. One of the most visible indicators that Afghan women's hard-won rights are being pulled back is the Taliban's decision to severely restrict girls' education after gaining control.
Women, media affected by the Taliban's control in Afghanistan
Per Big News Network, women instructors working at an all-boys school in Kabul are facing an unclear future after the Taliban-led Ministry of Education banned them from going to work.
According to Asadullah Kohistani, the Principal of Ghulam Haydar Khan High School, the Taliban-led administration has chosen to prohibit female teachers from working, resulting in a teacher shortage in the schools.
Students also expressed their dissatisfaction, claiming that the prohibition on female instructors going to work is causing a slew of issues in the classroom. A group of women demonstrated in Kabul against the closure of female-only schools and colleges, claiming that this is a violation of their fundamental rights in Afghan culture.
Experts say that now the Taliban has retaken control of Afghanistan after 20 years, Afghan women would face an uncertain future under the terrorist group's rule.
Moreover, the Taliban have adopted a two-pronged media strategy since assuming power in mid-August, portraying a press-friendly image to the outside world by conducting frequent news conferences while clamping down, often by force, on a once lively media.
Although Taliban officials have refrained from shutting down privately owned news outlets or imposing open censorship, they have imposed such broad limitations that many stations have been forced to eliminate critical programs and self-censor.
The Taliban's so-called "11 rules of journalism" restrict the publication or broadcasting of stories that are "contrary to Islam" or "distort news content," as well as the reporting of unconfirmed news. A more recent edict mandates that the Taliban be referred to by their full name, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as per Voice of America.