Higher education critical for young Afghan women, say community leaders

9 Dec 2015

Higher education critical for young Afghan women, say community leaders

KANDAHAR - Community leaders at a UN-backed event in the southern Kandahar province encouraged more than 500 girls to prioritize higher education and take a more active role in Afghan society.

The event, which drew government officials, women’s rights activists and civil society representatives, is part of a broader programme running across Afghanistan to mark the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

The annual campaign begins on 25 November with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ends on 10 December with Human Rights Day. Events in this year’s 16 Days campaign are being held under the global theme ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All.’

As part of the programme, community leaders delivered speeches to stress the critical importance of higher education for young Afghan women.

“More than 50 per cent of girls do not go to university, mainly due to family pressure and early marriage,” said Mohammad Ewaz Nazari, the deputy head of Kandahar’s Education Department, in remarks at the event. “I call upon families to allow their girls to complete their education.”

According to UN statistics, the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan has restricted access to education for girls. In the first nine months of 2015, more than 200 schools closed due to conflict, preventing some 20,000 girls from pursuing an education.

Some Afghan schools, closed during the conflict, have begun to reopen with UN support. A UNAMA-backed gathering of community leaders in Nangarhar this week, for example, established a working group to focus on plans to reopen many of the eastern province’s schools that had been closed by anti-government elements in the area.

The Kandahar event was jointly organized by the field offices of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the UN Refugee Agency and the Kandahar institute for modern studies,

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and relevant international and local non-governmental organizations to assist in the full implementation of the fundamental freedoms and human rights provisions of the Afghan Constitution and international treaties to which Afghanistan is a State party, in particular those regarding the full enjoyment by women of their human rights.