Girls must return to school as soon as possible, according to the Taliban.

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Girls must return to school as soon as possible, according to the Taliban.

After receiving widespread condemnation for effectively excluding women and girls from public life, the Taliban said on Tuesday that Afghan girls will be permitted to return to school “as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, weeks after the militants captured Kabul in an offensive that stunned the world, the hardliners’ spokesman unveiled the remaining members of Afghanistan’s new all-male cabinet.

From 1996 to 2001, the Taliban ruled with brutality and oppression, barring women from working and attending school, as well as preventing them from leaving their homes unless escorted by a male relative.

The Islamists have gradually eroded Afghans’ freedoms one month after winning power and promising a milder version of their previous administration.

The education ministry issued a directive over the weekend ordering male instructors and students back to secondary school, but it made no mention of the country’s female educators or students.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stated of the return of females to school at a press conference in Kabul: “We are finalizing things… It will take place as quickly as possible.”

He went on to say that “a safe learning environment” had to be developed first.

The Taliban proclaimed their new leadership in September, which was made up entirely of loyalists.

Mujahid made no mention of the now-defunct women’s affairs ministry while announcing the final lineup on Tuesday. There were no female ministers mentioned.

The Taliban now have the enormous challenge of administering Afghanistan, an aid-dependent country whose economic woes have only worsened since the Islamists took power and outside financing was cut off.

With food prices on the rise, many government employees have not been paid in months.

“We have the funds,” Mujahid replied, “but we need time to get the process up and running.”

Women’s access to work has also been cut by the Taliban, who earlier advised them to stay at home for their own safety until segregation under the group’s restrictive interpretation of sharia law could be established.

While the country’s new leadership have not enacted a formal policy prohibiting women from working, individual officials’ decisions have effectively rendered them unemployed.

Any municipal jobs currently held by women will be filled by men, according to the acting mayor of Kabul.

Despite their marginalization, Afghan women have battled for and obtained basic rights in the last 20 years, becoming legislators, judges, pilots, and police officers, but largely in large cities.

Hundreds of thousands of women entered the workforce under the deposed US-backed regime, with many of them rising to positions of power. Brief News from Washington Newsday.

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