International Women's Day: Celebrating Resilient Spirit of Afghan Women

“I did not have the opportunity to go to school and receive proper education when I was child. Poverty, cultural constraints and security issues were the leading barriers to my educational journey and sometimes even shattered my hopes. This situation did not only affect me, but also my elder brother who was deprived of attending formal education as well.”

The class was initially designed for 20 learners but due to high demand and its success, nine more women and girls were enrolled to this particular class, which made it a total of 29 learners. Fatima, 18, has been attending the literacy classes for the last two months and she is already able to combine words and read simple sentences.

Fatima is not the only girl who has been deprived of education during her childhood. In Afghanistan, tens of thousands of children drop out of school every year due to the war and security issues, leading to an increasingly growing illiterate generation. Fatima looks bolder and more talented than the other women and girls in the class and is a very active student, raising her hand frequently and engaging with the facilitator. “I lost my father in the war. The death of our father put my family in a straitened situation”, she said. “Though my mother accepted sending me to school but due to financial constraints we were not able to buy a notebook and a pencil after my father’s death.” Attending the literacy classes has made Fatima happier and more hopeful about her future.

Through the “Better Education Systems for Afghanistan’s Future” (BESAF) project, funded by the Government of Sweden, through Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), UNESCO is currently supporting the Ministry of Education with increased access to and demand for adult education and literacy for 15,000 marginalized and disadvantaged learners. More than 60 percent of these students are women and girls above 15.