Nobel Prize laureate and activist Malala Yousafzai told “CBS Mornings” that she is not shocked that the Taliban banned women and girls from attending universities and from getting higher education in Afghanistan.
She said that ever since the Taliban captured power over 15 months ago, conditions for women are getting worse and years of change are being erased in front of the world’s eyes.
“It was their activism that made it possible for them to get access to education, to get jobs, to be part of the parliament, to be part of everyday public life. And suddenly that public life is taken from them. That women are erased from public life,” Yousafzai said.
Yousafzai was shot in the head in Pakistan in 2012, when she was 15, after being targeted by the Taliban for speaking out on education for young women. She became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, at 17, for her work in education advocacy.
The hardline religious Taliban ruled over Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, before U.S.-led armed forces removed the group from power, before the group retook the country following the U.S. withdrawl in May 2021. They have since deprived girls of their fundamental rights by banning secondary education for grades six and above.
“They’re failing in the cultural justification, the religious justification, as well. And it’s really about the future of the Afghan people. It’s up to the Afghan people to decide how they want to live their life. It’s not up to men to decide their futures for them,” said Yousafzai.
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In a statement Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. “condemns in the strongest terms” the Taliban’s decision to ban women and girls from attending universities in Afghanistan.
Yousafzai is calling on more world leaders to address the issue and to be allies for Afghan women who have been leading mass protests for months.
“The truth of protests will be when leaders respond and hear their call to action,” she said.