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Invest in Afghan Women: A Report on Education in Afghanistan

September 25, 2013
Afghanistan has made significant gains in female education in recent years, but major challenges remain. For the sake of individual welfare, as well as for the future of the country, it is essential that the international community continues to invest in the education of Afghan girls.

In October 2012, a Taliban operative shot 15-year-old Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai in the face and neck while she traveled home on a school bus. The assassination attempt was punishment for her “crime” of advocating for girls’ education. After surgeons repaired her shattered skull, Malala made a full recovery. And on July 12, 2013, she gave a rousing speech at the United Nations, becoming a global voice for girls’ access to education.

Malala’s story is inspiring, but unfortunately the evils she’s combating are all too common in her region of the world. Just next door, in Afghanistan, religious fanaticism and deeply entrenched cultural practices have led to the systematic oppression of women and young girls.

The Afghan situation is particularly desperate. While her peers in the United States prepare for their freshman year of high school, a typical 14-year-old Afghan girl has already been forced to leave formal education and is at acute risk of mandated marriage and early motherhood. If she beats the odds and attends school, she has reason to fear an attack on her schoolhouse with grenades or poison. A full 76 percent of her countrywomen have never attended school. And only 12.6 percent can read.1

Afghanistan has made significant gains in female education in recent years, but major challenges remain. For the sake of individual welfare, as well as for the future of the country, it is essential that the international community continues to invest in the education of Afghan girls.