Importance of girls’ education stressed in Nangarhar radio debate

25 Aug 2016

Importance of girls’ education stressed in Nangarhar radio debate

JALALABAD - The critical importance of strengthening government and community support for girls pursuing an education was highlighted at a UN-backed radio debate broadcast out of the capital of Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar.

A five-member panel, consisting of representatives from civil society and academia, discussed the important role educated Afghan women can play in the social, political and economic development of Nangarhar, and the critical need to support schools toward that end.

“Studying and learning are obligations of both men and women,” said Mawlawi Abdul Zahir Haqani, one of the debate panellists, and a religious scholar. “I would like to call on other religious scholars to support the government’s efforts by delivering Friday sermons on permitting girls to study.”

Ziaulhaq, a university lecturer and another panellist, called attention to the security challenges in Nangarhar, and noted that women remain the most vulnerable segment of Afghan society.

Nangarhar province, which shares a porous border with Pakistan, has a strong agricultural base and hosts a significant trade route linking Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are ongoing security problems, with anti-government elements maintaining an active presence there.

“Women are not enjoying their full rights,” said Ziaulhaq. “Although the constitution gives the right to girls to go to school, implementation of the laws has been a challenge in some areas because of security and cultural constraints.”

Qari Sayedkhan, from the education department, pointed out that the government and the international community have been conducting awareness-raising campaigns and special events that have helped change minds about girls studying.

“Currently, many girls are going to schools, even in remote and conservative areas,” he said. “But there are still several obstacles that must be overcome.”

The panellists universally stressed that it is important for the government to take steps to eliminate security and cultural barriers so that Afghan girls can get an education and become empowered Afghan women.

The 40 minute programme was broadcast on Spinghar Radio Station in Nangarhar, with an estimated audience of 600,000 in the province.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides good offices; promotes coherent development support by the international community; supports the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.