The Taliban has suspended university education for all female students in Afghanistan, according to a letter published by the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education Tuesday.
“You all are informed to implement the mentioned order of suspending education of females until further notice,” said the letter signed by the minister for higher education, Neda Mohammad Nadeem.
The decision was made in a cabinet meeting and would be effective immediately, CNN reported.
This latest ban comes just three months after thousands of Afghan women sat university exams –– many with aspirations to become doctors and engineers.
In March, the Taliban blocked girls from returning to secondary schools on the day they were supposed to reopen.
International activists, human rights organizations, and government officials condemned the government’s move, saying that the ban on university education will further undermine Afghanistan’s struggling economy.
The Taliban’s justification for banning education for Afghan women on religious principles has been challenged by Muslim scholars, activists, and the broader international community.
After Afghanistan was taken over by the Taliban last summer, women in universities were forced to take lessons in gender-segregated classrooms and only be taught by female professors or old men.
Since then, they have also been pushed out of government jobs or have been forced to stay at home. Women would have to be accompanied by a male relative when traveling for more than 45 miles.
The ban has also resulted in an uptick of child marriages, according to the Guardian, with teenagers often married off to much older men of their father’s choice.
“The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially the human rights and fundamental freedom of women and girls,” U.S. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Robert Wood said during a U.N. Security Council meeting on Tuesday.