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Girls Education in Afghanistan Today

(Photo courtesy of WADSAM) “Class being taught in Afghanistan.”

Nicholas Ewing 
Connector Staff

Dark times have clouded Afghanistan for women and girls since the Taliban took over the country three years ago. Women have been removed from public spaces and lost their jobs. Girls, who were once able to attend school during the twenty years of American support, saw their futures vanish almost overnight after their right to an education was taken.  

Bahara Hussaini, an Afghan woman, is a Fulbright Scholar and UMass Lowell alumni with a master’s degree in peace and conflict studies. She spoke about the dire state of education in her country, saying “Education was severely impacted when the Taliban took over the country in August 2021. The education system had crashed.” Saying as well, “Afghan women have faced many restrictions from getting an education, to having jobs, and being engaged in social activities, they are even banned from going to the gym or traveling alone.” 

Hussaini told two stories of how the Taliban have used violence against women and girls to consolidate their power in the country and instill their version of Islam on their countrymen. “Many girls were arrested [by the Taliban] in the Barch area of Kabul Province because of their ‘improper’ dress code based on Taliban [laws]. Their families have no idea what happened to them. The situation caused another shadow of fear and hopelessness among women and girls and now they even cannot easily go outside of their houses, or their parents do not allow them.”

As well, she shared, “A women’s rights advocate after her release from the Taliban committed suicide. We have no idea what is happening to women in Taliban prisons. The Taliban are violating international human rights and women’s rights are negatively impacted. They always come up with a new decision to restrict women’s and girls’ lives by using the name of so-called Islam. The girls have a lot of restrictions from speaking freely because they will become arrested.” Hussaini wants to be the voice for the voiceless by sharing their stories. 

Hussaini has not been discouraged from continuing to help girls in Afghanistan with their education. “I started an initiative in Afghanistan called ‘The Bookies Team’ that helps Afghan children learn about peace through education. A team [of] mostly women leads it and despite all the challenges they are facing now, they are excited to be doing this work,” she said. Many Americans may view Afghanistan as a lost cause after twenty years of failed intervention, but Hussaini says, “Do not forget about girls and women. We can still provide educational opportunities, like scholarships and short-term educational programs, so they can be engaged positively during these hard times.” Afghan women such as Hussaini, continue to fight for the right to education for Afghan boys and girls despite the Taliban victory. 

One campaign The Bookies Team and Hussaini successfully executed was the #LetHerLearn social media campaign. The Bookies “is a volunteer movement working in Afghanistan to promote peace through education among children since 2019. This movement implements its storytelling sessions for children with the coordination and support of educational centers, social organizations, and private and public schools,” according to The Bookies Team X’s June 12, 2023, post. With those goals and strategies in mind, Hussaini and her team used the #LetHerLearn campaign to share messages about girls who were banned from getting an education through the team’s social media. Moqdesa Qaderi is a supporter of #LetHerLearn and posted how women’s rights expand the freedom and equality of everyone. Qaderi said, “Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every man and woman. We, women, did not rise only to defend women’s rights; our rise was to expand the equality and freedom of men and women!” Wajiha Sharifi posted how women will defiantly overcome all who oppose a society free of ignorance. Quaderi said, “We fight and stand together for a society free of ignorance. My message as an Afghan-educated person is that you are ultimately doomed to destruction and failure; we will overcome and triumph over you!” 

It is inspiring hearing all these women and girls sharing posts and supporting each other as they fight for their undeniable right to an education. Yet, the reality is this: The Taliban are in power, and freedom looks to never return to Afghanistan if it even had the chance to begin in the last twenty years. Still, the reality remains that people can always help and save one more. The UN estimates there are 250 million children out of school and peace campaigns like #LetHerLearn are a call to action to address a global injustice of no education for millions of children. 

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