2018 has been a transformative year for us at Aid Afghanistan for Education. Our renewed partnership with the Ministry of Education gives us hope for an Afghanistan where every woman and girl—no matter her age, marital or refugee status, or income level—can access the education of her dreams. The King Sejong Literacy Prize from UNESCO elevated our work to a global audience. And we’re proud to say that more people than ever have committed to a monthly donation supporting our students, becoming our strongest partners for peace.
2018 was also a big year for peace in Afghanistan. This may sound surprising if you watch news coverage of the war. But I invite you to think back to the spring.
Think of the first-ever ceasefire between the Afghan government and extremist groups—a ceasefire demanded by the Afghan people to celebrate Eid in peace.
Think of the Kandahar peace march. Activists from Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan, marched on foot to Kabul in the name of peace, picking up hundreds of people along the way.
Think of the parliamentary elections in the fall. While security and preparedness issues meant hundreds of polling places did not even open, a record number of women turned out to vote. Women from all backgrounds across the country, including AAE students and graduates, showed up on election day to do their part, despite the risk. Their commitment to democracy told the world loud and clear: Afghan women’s voices matter, and the world must listen.
And now think of graduation. A pivotal point in any person’s life, the chance to take on new opportunities. This year, hundreds Afghan women graduated with state-certified diplomas from Aid Afghanistan for Education’s accelerated education program. That means hundreds more women are out in the world creating peace.
We believe our students’ resilience and ambition prove that education is worth the investment. Educated women raise healthy and education children, vote in elections, start businesses to support their families and communities, pursue higher education, and forge paths to peace in a world in desperate need of it. They become journalists, midwives, teachers, mothers, accountants, scientists, and more. With education, Afghan women are achieving their wildest dreams.
To our students, to our teachers, to our advocates and allies, to our supporters like you: thank you. Thank you for making 2018 our most hopeful year for peace yet.