What great timing! The very day I wrote about the Taliban, Time magazine comes plopping through my door with this amazing piece on girls starting to go to school in Afghanistan now that the Taliban is no longer in power.
Though women are now able to vote, hold positions in parliament, and have jobs in Afghanistan, girls are only slowly coming to school. This piece focused on a girls' high school in the Karokh province and simultaneously gave great hope for the future as well as a stark outline of the mountain of work yet to do.
Fewer than 30 percent of girls are enrolled in schools. To find out why, please read more. This is in part due to structural issues — namely the lack thereof. Although during the last six years, 3,500 new schools have been built, less than half of them have buildings. Even though the ultrastrict Taliban is no longer in charge, many Afghanis uphold very rigid beliefs about their daughters being seen by men (the main problem if there's no dedicated building for a school) and they won't allow their girls to be taught by male teachers. A huge hurdle when only 28 percent of the country's accredited teachers are women.
This quote from Oxfam's Matt Waldman was entirely illuminating:
In Afghan culture, women are seen as the repository of family honor, and the education of girls — whether in terms of the design of school buildings or in the way in which classes are conducted — needs to reflect that reality.
The culminating quote, from a student whose sister was shot coming out of a school last Summer, made my heart burn for these girls,
I am afraid. But I like school because I am learning something, and that will make me important. With education, I can save my country.
Wise words indeed.