Afghanistan first women's university
Afghanistan's first women-only university will be a joint venture with TurkeyOmar Sobhani/Reuters

The government of Afghanistan is setting up its first women's university in capital Kabul. The move is being seen as a significant step towards supplementing women's education in the conservative nation.

Afghan first lady Rula Ghani, on 20 January, said that the institution would be established in the near future and preparations were underway. She announced about the launch of the university following talks with representatives of the civil society and cabinet members in Kabul. The project was a promise made by President Ashraf Ghani during his election campaign, before he came to power in 2014.

"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. "Those girls that are not allowed to study at other universities can continue their higher education in this university."

She, however, did not reveal the exact date the university would be inaugurated. The academic facility, tentatively named Mawlana Afghan-Turk University, will be built in a joint effort with Turkey, authorities said.

"This university will be built on at least 47 acres of land in Tap-e-Maranjan area in Kabul," Afghanistan's Higher Education Minister Farida Mohmand said during the conference. Other ministers have also pledged to assist the students of the university once it is fully operational.

Mark English, president of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), who also participated in the gathering, said: "The American University always supports anything that is going to advance the education for women in Afghanistan. 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."

Schools and colleges, especially places where girls are educated, are frequently targeted by Taliban Islamists in Afghanistan. Extremists consider education for women as "haram" or "unIslamic".