School girls gather for class photo
“Educating women is a matter of national necessity. Educating one young girl will change the next five generations of a family. Afghanistan's self-reliance aligns men and women who can run a modern economy. Basic health and education must reach all our young girls. That's a promise.” --Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Address to Joint Meeting of Congress
It is nice to have friends around when things are going well in our lives. But we need our friends most when we’re going through a hard time. Afghanistan is going through a hard time right now – and as friends we cannot walk away.
Afghanistan has gone through a tremendous amount of change since the fall of the Taliban 14 years ago. Women now make up 27% of the Afghan Parliament; they own businesses, women are appointed as governors and ministers; they are working as lawyers and educators. Today, girls and young women make up 40% of the nine million students in Afghanistan. These gains were hard earned. Afghan women have struggled and still struggle to secure a good living status for themselves.
Today, 3.3 million children, about 32 percent of the school-age population, most of whom are girls, still remain out of school. Afghanistan has the highest level of gender disparity in primary education in the world. Only 21 percent of girls complete primary school, mostly due to cultural barriers such as early marriage and a lack of female teachers.
Sahar has launched a pilot program to prevent early marriage in two schools outside of Mazar-i-Sharif. Over 1,000 girls will participate in this program, based on leadership training and mentoring. Families, especially fathers, are also participating in meetings designed to provide a forum for communication with the schools and to learn about the opportunities available to their daughters if they postpone marriage.
With the withdrawal of the foreign troops from Afghanistan, many non-profit organizations have already departed. Sahar, however, is dedicated to staying and helping women and young girls achieve their dreams.
Girls taking test in school
Girls playing outside of school
Girls in a classroom