ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - Afghan girls have been without school for a thousand days

Saturday, 22 June 2024 human rights   women  

Kabul (Agenzia Fides) - Afghan girls have not been to school for a thousand days. More than 1,000 days have passed since the Taliban banned secondary education for girls in Afghanistan. Millions of Afghan women and girls now live under a system of gender discrimination and cannot go to school, work or participate in public life. Despite these circumstances, women and girls are resisting and learning in secret, reports the "Malala Fund", an organization founded by Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl injured by the Taliban in 2012 and the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
In her professional career, the young woman was the founder of the Fund named after her, an organization that works to promote girls' education around the world.
The Fund announced new funding of more than $1.5 million for organizations that work to ensure that girls in Afghanistan go to school. There are 13 beneficiary organizations that offer digital and alternative learning programs for girls in Afghanistan. "We are proud to support these innovative initiatives," says Sahar Halaimzai, director of the Malala Fund initiative for the Central Asian country. "By providing digital and alternative education pathways, we are ensuring that Afghan girls can continue their education despite the interruptions they have faced, particularly over the past three years." In this way, a statement says, up to one million girls in Afghanistan could be reached: educational content is provided via satellite television, and thousands of Afghan girls are taught through online learning in classes that mostly take place at home.
Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls are not allowed to go to school, according to the organization. Even before the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, 3.7 million young people were not attending school, most of them girls. Since then, the regime has banned another 1.2 million Afghan girls from attending secondary school.
Over the past two decades, social workers in the country have worked to rebuild the education system and helped millions of girls and women to go to school. Now that the Taliban are in power, this progress is in danger and today the country has a negative record: half the population is barred from attending school.
Since 2017, the Malala Fund has been reaching out and funding local organizations to improve Afghan girls' access to free, safe, quality education. The organization has helped address the country's shortage of female teachers by investing in teacher training and recruitment.
After the Taliban seized power in 2021, many of the educators and teachers faced reprisals for advocating for girls and their right to education. Assistance was provided so they and their families could leave the country, but efforts were also made to support alternative education programs for girls while schools remained closed. And at the advocacy level, "we continue to sensitize regional and global institutions to call on the Taliban government to reopen schools for girls," the foundation said.
The international community's response to the Taliban's rise to power has led to a humanitarian and economic crisis that has exacerbated existing obstacles to girls' education in Afghanistan. The freezing of Afghanistan's assets and the significant reduction in aid have had a serious impact on the Afghan civilian population, with 97% of the population now at risk of poverty. The education system is on the verge of collapse. Teachers have not been paid for months.
The Taliban had pledged to reopen classes for all girls at the end of March, but this has not happened. Moreover, "it is not enough to simply pass a decree or open the doors of classrooms," notes the Malala Fund. "The Taliban's ban on educating girls contradicts both secular and religious logic: it contradicts the basic principles of Islam and hinders the Taliban's efforts to gain international recognition," said Sultan Barakat, a lecturer at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar and the University of York.
Civil society organizations believe that the international community should respond to the girls’ education crisis in Afghanistan by using policy instruments that support girls to return to school safely. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 22/6/2024)