When the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, women faced substantial discrimination. Many of their rights were stifled, including their ability to receive an education. The Taliban lost power in 2001, and the Afghan government and USAID have since worked together to reinstate women’s rights. Their primary focus has been improving female education in Afghanistan, as education is a major key to lifting people out of poverty.
In the past 16 years, girls have gone from comprising zero percent of students to almost 40 percent. While these statistics are encouraging, the female gender still faces significant barriers to education in Afghanistan.
Many families still believe that women should not work or go to school because it is improper for their gender. Without their family’s support, it can be nearly impossible to receive an education in Afghanistan. For some girls, schools are so far away from their homes that they have to walk a great distance to get there. According to the Women and Children Legal Research Foundation, 90 percent of women throughout Afghanistan have been sexually harassed on the streets. This harassment can create so much fear that they drop out of school to be safe.
Child marriage also poses a significant threat to female education in Afghanistan. Almost one-third of girls are married before they turn 18. Child marriage is an unfortunate result of tradition and a lack of career opportunities for women. Additionally, once a woman gets married, it is incredibly unlikely that her husband will allow her to continue her education.
Afghanistan can be a difficult place for a woman to receive an education due to it being a highly dangerous country for women. Thankfully, the Afghan government, with help from other nations, continues to work to improve conditions for women. The Education Quality Improvement Program, or EQUIP, provides schools with grants to for textbooks, equipment, schoolhouse improvement and increasing the teachers’ education levels. Currently, EQUIP focuses on improving the quality of education in Afghanistan for females, and most of the funding goes to schools that educate women.
Women who receive a proper education are less likely to become child brides and more liable contribute to their communities in a substantial way. Female education is thus essential to ending the cycle of poverty for individuals and communities. In Afghanistan, educational opportunities are increasing, and poverty levels are sure to decrease as more women receive an education.
– Julia Mccartney