We have nothing, nothing at all, say young girls in Afghanistan

By Shakirullah Niazi, Master Trainer at Y-Peer Afghanistan, a social activist, monitoring and evaluator for girls, young women, youth and child rights.  He has been a human right defender for the last 6 years, working in regional and international advocacy for girls’ education and prevention of human trafficking, youth capacity building, and empowerment. Shakirullah was also a panellist at the Asia Pacific launch of the GEM 2022 Youth Report which took place in early September.

If you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.

Girls’ education is important for all: for parents, for every aspect of life, whether it is in a medical field, science and technology, sports, or daily activities. I would like to mention the progress and achievements of girls’ education in our country.  This would allow us to discuss achievements over time, which appears to be the main message from the GEM 2022 Youth Report on non-state actors in education. But this does not represent what has occurred in Afghanistan. I want to mention something more important. Afghan girls say that “we have nothing, nothing at all in every way” because they are banned from education.

It is difficult for Afghanistan to consider the #RightTheRules campaign for free education, given our current circumstances. Over the four decades that there has been war in Afghanistan, thousands of people, including innocent women and children, have died. The basics of war remain social and religious factors, with different groups attached to their own customs, traditions and language, They are fighting and depriving the people of their basic needs, such as education. As per a UNDP report, 97% of Afghans could plunge into poverty in 2022.

Will we move beyond the darkness? When the Taliban last ruled the country in 1996-2001, girls were banned from going to school.  But education for all was a basic issue for the globe. Since then, we witnessed parents trying their best to act as investors in education. According to UNESCO, the Afghan female literacy rate almost doubled from 17% in 2011 to 30% in 2018.

Once again, the door of education particularly for girls and young women has been closed and the world has not done enough to support them. Education should not be used as a form of political coercion because it is a basic human right.  Girls’ education is essential because it’s the backbone of society. An educated mother can lead her sons and daughters on the right pathway.

Afghan girls have much talent, which they have proven to the world in the last few years, as many of them joined robotics and engineering teams, sports teams, and become political scientists and doctors.

The last estimates of out-of-school figures we have in Afghanistan date from 2019, before the Taliban claimed power. Back then, despite great progress, 25% of primary school-age girls were still out of school. Today, girls are completely excluded from secondary education. If girls and young women are not allowed back into school, there will be no female doctors and nurses. The concern is that this will also lead to early marriages and human trafficking. The international community demands that girls are allowed to go to school, as it is their fundamental right, but the Taliban only allows girls to attend primary school.

The time has not run out yet. We need to stand and support Afghan girls. They need your support. Or else, how can we #RightTheRules?

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