Towards Better Education Opportunities for women in Afghanistan

Last week, Afghanistan’s First Lady Rula Ghani announced plans for the first All - Women’s university in Kabul. This would fulfil the promise made by President Ashraf Ghani during his presidential campaign to open an all - women’s college . While the announcement is promising, it did not provide a concrete time period for when the university would open. Instead Mrs. Ghani stated that the university would be opened in the “near future” . The name being considered by the government is Mawlana Afghan-Turk University and it will be built on 47 acre in Tapa-e- Maranjan with the help of the Turkish government.

This project undertaken by the Afghan President and his wife is supported by other members of the government and other universities in the country. The minister for Labor and Social Affairs, Nasrin Oryakhel said that her department would provide the graduates of this university with employment opportunities and the Chancellor of the American University in Afghanistan, Mike English, promised support in developing programs and providing resources. Due to attacks by insurgents, several schools in the country often lack the infrastructure and resources required to provide quality education. Support from international educational institutions and the Afghan government is especially necessary to provide regular access of quality education to women in Afghanistan.

Rula Ghani believes that this university would provide women, without any restrictions, the opportunity to receive higher education. This is a valiant step for a country in which education has not been an option for the female population. Infact women and children in Afghanistan risk their lives everyday they decide to go to an educational institution. Over the last decade there have been many attacks by terrorist groups on schools. In 2014, child casualties in Afghanistan increased by 48%. A large percentage of which were school going girls. All-girl schools have largely been targeted over the last five years. Incidents included gas attacks on 300 school girls in Heret province and poisoning of over a hundred girls by spraying classrooms with toxic substances. Several girls and teachers have also been victims of acid attacks while traveling to school.

Before the Taliban repression, Afghan women were active participants and contributors to Afghan society. During the repression, female literacy rates and professional opportunities for women dropped drastically. This has lead to a current low female literacy rate in the country. However, since Ashraf Ghani was sworn in 2014, conditions for women have been improving in many ways. Both the current President the first lady Rula Ghani have been quite vocal of their desire to improve the condition of women in Afghanistan. In a recent speech Mrs Ghani, who has always been an active advocate for women’s rights, said

“It is with great conviction that I predict that through technology, the women of Afghanistan will contribute significantly to bring back prosperity and development to our beloved country Afghanistan.”

Mr Ghani shares his wife’s conviction. His government , the Afghan Unity Government has vigorously tried to increase women’s participation in the government by appointing women to high governmental positions.

This could be the critical beginning of what is required in Afghanistan to empower the female population that has for too long been repressed and restricted in reaching their full potential.