Education may seem like a simple action in a nation ravaged by war for the last several decades, but we have seen tremendous change in the status of girls and women. Providing quality education experiences is about more than just getting more girls into the classroom, it is about empowering them to be free, creative thinkers who can engage in the public discussion of their country’s culture and politics and be respected and heard. We are a long ways off from achieving our goals of gender parity in the Afghanistan education system, but we continue to see tremendous growth in our capability to make this a reality.
We recently hosted a short story competition at one of our schools, where students were encouraged to write a short story about their life. More than 30 were submitted from 10th through 12th graders. The goal of this competition was to allow students to write stories using their unique voice about their own experiences or life around the village. In addition, students were required to read outside books to help with create a short story. Together these goals encouraged reading and general knowledge, as well as promoting creativity and empowerment by allow the children to raise their own voice and write about the situation.
The stories we received shocked and awed us. The titles were as diverse as “The Merchant Daughter” to “Regret is Useless,” Forces Marriages,” and “Unchastity.” The outpouring for this competition highlights the need to creative outlets in education and further opportunities for students to have their opinion heard.
More than half-way through the construction of our 11th school, Ayni has been researching new ways to improve our service and make our mission more effective. This month has seen a focus on the effects of early marriage on education and how we can reverse this trend. Over 39% of women are married by 18 in Afghanistan. This leads to a lack of education, maternal and infant health problems, and violence. Currently we are trying to pursue strategic partnerships and engages communities in informational programs in order to raise awareness and address this problem.
You can read more about child marriage here:
All this work would not be possible without your help. We are so thankful every day for the donor support we continue to receive. We look forward to more innovative progress in the future.