India on Thursday expressed concern after the Taliban on December 21 banned women from taking university education, reported ANI.

“We have noted with concern the reports in this regard,” spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Arindam Bagchi said, reported PTI. “India has consistently supported the cause of women’s education in Afghanistan.”

He added, “We have emphasised the importance of the establishment of an inclusive and representative government that respects the rights of all Afghans and ensures the equal rights of women and girls to participate in all aspects of Afghan society, including access to higher education.”

Bagchi also recalled the United Nations Security Council Resolution on Afghanistan, adopted on August 30, 2021, under India’s presidency of the global body.

It had “reaffirmed the importance of upholding human rights, including those of women”.

The ban on higher education for women came after the Taliban had shut down girls’ secondary schools in the country in March just hours after they were reopened for the first time since August 2021.

Taliban’s moves contravene their statements that were made after they took control of Afghanistan in August last year. The insurgent group had claimed that there would be no discrimination against women. However, the recent decision seems contrary to the group’s earlier claim.

Apart from keeping girls and women away from education, since 2021, the Taliban have restricted their freedom of movement, excluded them from most of the workforce and banned them from using parks, gyms and public bathhouses.