The Issue of Access
For many people, Afghanistan has become synonymous with an image of the decades-long conflict that has gripped the country. It has become difficult to see past the devastation highlighted in global headlines, and even harder to consider the lifestyles of the conflict’s most vulnerable. UNICEF reports, “an estimated 3.7 million children are out of school in Afghanistan – 60% of them are girls.” This is a devastating figure that has widespread consequences across all aspects of Afghan society.
There are multiple factors impacting female student enrollment: limited access to sanitation facilities, few female teachers, geographical restraints, minimal resources, and child marriages. According to Human Rights Watch, “Forty-one percent of all schools in Afghanistan do not have buildings. Many children live too far from the nearest school to be able to attend, which particularly affects girls. Girls are often kept at home due to harmful gender norms that do not value or permit their education.” Further adding to the issue, Human Rights Watch explains that the Ministry of Education reported in 2017 that while 39% of 9.3 million students attending school were female children these statistics aren’t truly reflective of the current situation, as the administration continues to consider a child in attendance until they are absent for up to three years. This means that many child brides who were married off before the age of 15 are still considered to be enrolled in school. From a policy perspective, working with inaccurate statistics only further convolutes an already complex, critical situation.
What’s Being Done?
Non-governmental and non-profit organizations around the world are working to address the issue of female children’s lack of access to education. USAID and UNICEF established over 4,000 community based education classes in 2016-2017, with USAID also providing support to over 154,000 teachers.
Educate Girls Now supplies a variety of much-needed support to families in the Afghan provinces of Kabul, Herat, and Kunduz. From providing family counseling to food provisions, Educate Girls Now meets monthly to ensure that any emergent crises are being addressed. This intimate, regular access is critical to Educate Girls Now’s grassroots approach to aid distribution. Ground team leaders and parents are partners ensuring that each household’s children have what they need to be successful in the classroom.
To date, Educate Girls Now has provided food, shelter, and education for 291 children in Afghanistan. Eleven girls between the ages of eleven and thirteen have been saved from marriage, and 12 widows have been lifted out from abject poverty. With your help, these numbers can grow. Every dollar raised goes directly to operations on the ground.
The BBC 100 Women is a list of select women being featured for their influential and inspiring stories and work. This month, it featured an article with the headline: Growing up Afghan: ‘My parents were told to swap me for a boy.’ Written by a Nargis Taraki, a young woman born in an Afghan village where it was suggested that her parents swap her for a male child, the article details Taraki’s life, her parents’ commitment to her, and the education she fought to receive. Taraki, 21, studied public policy and administration at Kabul University, graduating with the highest marks that year, and she dreams of opening a school for girls in her home village. Her story is one of inspiration; we hope it inspires you to reach out and help support other young women hoping to make their mark on the world.
How You Can Help?
Sometimes it seems impossible to make a difference, especially when the issues are so complex and multi-faceted, but nothing can be further from the truth. You can get involved today. A contribution of $60 USD feeds a family for an entire month. When families have food security they are able to send their children to school instead of work. Please consider supporting this mission, any amount can make a big difference.
If you are not in a position to donate, but want to get involved don’t hesitate to contact us now. We are always looking for volunteers to help spread the word – Educate Girls Now!