On Tuesday, Education Cannot Wait (ECW), a UN fund dedicated to enabling continuous learning for children during emergencies and prolonged crises, initiated a campaign to amplify the voices of young Afghan girls denied their fundamental right to education.
AfghanGirlsVoices emerges precisely two years after the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan. The initiative will persist until September 18th, which signifies the two-year point since schools were formally shut down for girls beyond Grade 6.
The campaign, a joint effort with ECW Global Champion Somaya Faruqi, former captain of the Afghan Girls’ Robotic Team, and artwork by a young Afghan female artist, presents a series of testimonies from Afghan girls whose lives have been affected by the education ban.
Faruqi said: “The situation is taking an immense toll on girls’ mental health, and rates of suicide for girls have gone up in the last two years. It is more urgent than ever to act now, and I hope we celebrate their freedom next year rather than mark their oppression.”
A recent UN report highlighted that the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan is currently the direst globally.
The report points out that their fundamental human rights are systematically restricted and encounter significant prejudice under Taliban rule. This combination of factors raises concerns about the potential categorization of these conditions as “gender apartheid” and “gender persecution,” according to the report.
“It is hard to think of anyone further left behind than the girls in Afghanistan who are being denied their most basic human rights, including their right to education, based solely on their gender,” said ECW Executive Director Yasmine Sherif.
“We will continue to steadfastly advocate for the full resumption of their right to education in Afghanistan and to work with our partners to deliver crucial learning opportunities to Afghan children through the community-based education programmes we support,” she added.
Since 2017, ECW has supported education in Afghanistan, initially with a mix of formal and non-formal approaches, focusing solely on non-formal programs. The ECW-backed Multi-Year Resilience Programme (MYRP) in Afghanistan targets over 250,000 young individuals in remote areas, offering community-based education facilitated by local support. Notably, girls make up the majority benefiting from this initiative.