Speaking to delegates at the Education World Forum in London this week, Freshta Karim, founder of Charmaghz, appealed to ministers and stakeholders for help.
There were fears that when the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021 they would ban girls from accessing education. While primary schools for girls have reopened under the Taliban, girls arriving for lessons at secondary schools in March were turned away.
Afghanistan’s girls being barred from attending schools cannot be forgotten and the education ministries around the world should come together and demand access to education, Karim, founder of the nonprofit that turns old public buses into mobile libraries, said.
“It seems like the future that we looked for is out of reach,” she said. “But I don’t think it is out of reach.”
Karim relayed that her niece, who has just turned 17 years old and in the 11th grade, sent her a message asking, “What if the world forgets us? what if we die of depression?”
“My niece is not alone in her fears,” Karim said. Karim asked leaders for three measures to contribute to an Afghanistan that is “stronger, bolder and better”.
Governments should issue a joint statement calling for the reopening of schools across Afghanistan, and Muslim majority countries should “counter the Taliban’s narrative of what Islam says about girls’ education”.
“They have lost their trust in adults”
Earlier this year, Malala Yousafzai similarly urged Muslim countries to condemn the Taliban’s ban on girls’ secondary education.
Karim now called on them to “demonstrate to [the Taliban] how girls’ right to quality education can be secure within the Islamic framework”.
“Use your influence and organisation,” she urged. Thirdly, girls and boys in Afghanistan should have access to scholarships to study abroad.
“If 100 countries could give only 10 scholarships to Afghans it would be 1,000 scholarships per year. For our country these 1,000 scholarships will matter a lot. They will go back, they will fix their country,” Karim said.
“It’s shocks me to see that children are aware of our capacity to forget them, ignore them and their suffering. They have lost their trust in adults. I ask you to tell them that they’re not forgotten.”