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Education. The foundation of what we could potentially achieve further into our lives. The system that teaches us the difference between right and wrong, and the system that lets us grow into the young adults that we all strive to be. Education is taken for granted all over the world and is thought of a right of passage that needs to be taken throughout child hood. However, this privilege is greatly overlooked for females in Afghanistan, leaving 2/3 of Afghan girls without the proper education to accomplish their dreams of what they want to do in the future. Afghanistan is found in Middle Eastern Asia, with the country being completely land locked. The capital city of Afghanistan is Kabul and is located on the North East side of the Country. Afghanistan is surrounded by the countries Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Kabul is 476km North West of Islamabad (capital of Pakistan), 2020km South East of Tehran (capital of Iran), 1500km South East of Ashgabat (capital of Turkmenistan), 580km South of Dushanbe (capital of Tajikistan) and 1150km South of Tashkent (capital of Uzbekistan). Afghanistan is an extremely mountainous country, with most of its population living at least 2000ft above sea level. Afghanistan is war ridden, with most of the population trying to flee the country for their own safety. Although, the families and innocent people that are forced to stay in Afghanistan due to financial problems have to fight for their rights, generally leaving a large portion of girls without education.
According to the Human Rights Watch (2017) “2,975,000 girls don’t go to school each year, leaving only 37% of adolescent females’ literate in Afghanistan.” This statistic is extremely scary when compared to Australia. Approximately 3,800,000 girls go to school each year in Australia for a total country population of 24 million people. Afghanistan on the other hand have a population of 36 million people, with only 525,000 females attending school each year. This is a devastating difference. Since 1996, the education rates of girls have greatly decreased. Between the years of 1996 and 2001, the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. When the Taliban arrived in the country, so did the tidal wave of rules. Girls weren’t even allowed outside their homes without the accompaniment a closely related male, let alone allowed to attend any sort of school. This included teaching, leaving older women without an income. Yet, since the American military drove the Taliban out of the country 17 years ago, 2/3 of girls still don’t go to school. Adopting habitats from other cultures and countries, parents of Afghan girls will marry their daughters extremely young, just to get a higher reputation in the social hierarchy and to gain more money into their family. Girls between the ages of 5 and 14 work instead of going to school to help support their family, though it is highly illegal to work before the age of 15 in Afghanistan. The Taliban is still prevalent in some places of Afghanistan meaning that their rules of female imprisonment still stand.
Although in spite of this all, the main reason for girls not having the proper education opportunities, is the lack of schools due to the warfare in the country, meaning that girls need to travel long distances just so then they can have a chance of creating their future. This is a statement from 17-year-old Zarifa (2017), who went to a school in Kabul: “There was too many students – it’s hard to manage them. There is a lack of chairs, of teachers, of classrooms. It’s too crowded – some study in tents. There is a lack of books. At one time, I had no books. I didn’t allow myself to be taken out, I had promised to stay and finish.” While this may seem devasting, Zarifa’s school is one of the better schools on offer, so to think that there is worse than this is completely overwhelming.
The greatest obstruction that girls’ education has to face are the politics surrounding Afghanistan. After the Taliban political government was intervened in 2001, the Afghanistan laws have drastically changed, letting females go to school. Despite these changes, female schools are still extremely hard to get to, as there just aren’t enough of them. This is due to the chronic warfare between the American and Taliban Military (2001 – 2014), and between ISIS and the American Military (2016 – present), either demolishing schools or taking over the only schools that are left for combat bases. Though warfare isn’t the only reason why girls can’t go to school. Premature marriage and child labour are two of the biggest hinderances for girls’ education. In Afghanistan, the legal age of marriage is 16 years old. Nevertheless, girls as young as 10 years old are getting married, meaning that they are striped of their education rights. Child labour is also ubiquitous among Afghanistan.
Like in Australia, the legal working age is 15 years old, however children as young as 5 are forced to find some sort of work to support their families. This impacts their future, as they don’t start off with the proper education, meaning that they won’t continue it further into their lives. This is a story of Helal, a 10-year-old forced into child labour (2018) “he works as a brick maker at a brick kiln outside Kabul. He told Human Rights Watch that the brick mold is heavy and his hands hurt working with wet clay. Helal doesn’t go to school because he has to work.” Helal, is just one of the children that has been barred of education. Viewpoints of Afghanistan’s female education rights vary across the world. According to the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth (2017), “The shuras have solved problems at the school, including teacher shortages and issues with drinking water in addition to discussing school issues, the shuras are an opportunity for the community to gather together.” Though, as stated by the United Nations Women (2013), “Education is often not an option for many women and girls in Afghanistan. According to government figures, only 26 per cent of Afghanistan’s population is literate, and among women, the rate is only 12 per cent.” There is quite a significant difference between these two perspectives as one choses to believe education is improving, while the other choses to believe that it is at a standstill.
However, parents also have a different point of view on their daughter’s education rights. While most school supplies may be free, the actual educating aspect of schooling costs money. When having to put multiple children through schooling, parents will choose their sons over daughters as this sticks to the countries normality. Despite all of these viewpoints, there is the one major underlying statement that is left untouched. Why did this all start? While warfare is a highlighting interference in girls’ education, the main reason is the lack of government intervention. It is a well-known fact to everyone in Afghanistan that child labour and underaged marriage is present, but apart from the laws that are already in place, the government hasn’t intervened with any illegal actions that is stopping females from going to school. Girls education rights in Afghanistan has been proven to be one of the worst in the world. Due to the mountainous terrain that Afghanistan is located on, causing it to be harder to get to school, the decrease of schools near the major cities and rural areas, the lack of government intervention on broken laws to keep young girls safe and the different view points of a variety of parties, girls’ education is put at a significant halt with no changes planning to be made any time soon. Hence, if no serious change is made, it is time to hope that girls fight for their education rights.
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