The government of Afghanistan announced on Jan. 20 that it plans to open the country’s first women’s university in the “near future."
The announcement, made by Afghan first lady Rula Ghani, came after a series of talks with cabinet members and civil rights activists in Kabul, and fulfills a promise made by President Ashraf Ghani during his election campaign in 2013, International Business Times reports.
"Building a university for girls is one of the promises of Mr. Ghani that he vowed during presidential campaigns and now we are on the eve of its implementation," Rula said during the conference, according to IB Times. "Those girls that are not allowed to study at other universities can continue their higher education in this university."
In many areas in Afghanistan, the Taliban prevent women from going to school and attempt to silence women who speak out against the issue. Although the Taliban leadership was officially removed from power in 2001, the extremist group continues to maintain control over many areas in the country, according to the National Counterterrorism Center.
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During the Jan. 20 conference, Farida Mohmand, Afghanistan’s Higher Education Minister, announced that the university would be “built on at least 47 acres of land in Tap-e-Maranjan area in Kabul,” the capital of Afghanistan. Although no completion date for the university was released to the public, Afghan officials explained that it would be built as part of a collaboration with Turkey, and it is tentatively named Mawlana Afghan-Turk University.
The university has already received pledges of assistance from other cabinet members, such as Labor and Social Affairs Minister Nasrin Oryakhel, who promised employment opportunities for female graduates of the university.
"As the minister of labor and social affairs we are committed to providing jobs, training and entrepreneurship opportunities for graduates of the university," Oryakhel said, according to Tolo News.
Mark English, president of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), also attended the conference and pledged his institution’s support for the new Afghan university.
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"The American University always supports anything that is going to advance the education for women in Afghanistan,” English said. “We are willing to give all of our support in terms of helping develop programs, and helping to increase their resources so that we can get this initiative started."