The dawn of the new school year in Afghanistan has brought hope and excitement to many students, but it has also cast a shadow over girls above Grade 6 who have been stripped of their right to education.
Wednesday, Sept. 6, marked the start of the new school year in Nimroz, Farah, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Helmand, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, and Laghman provinces. However, the stark reality for high school students is that it applies to boys only.
For teenage girls who dreamt of starting the academic year alongside their male counterparts, the day brought profound despair, leaving them with little solace other than tears.
Zahra, a student from Farah, and countless others like her in Nimroz, shared similar emotions, stating they yearn for opportunities denied to them.
It has been an agonizing 717 days since more than two million girls above the sixth grade were last allowed to attend school. Afghanistan stands alone as the only country in the world where the education of teenage girls remains forbidden at secondary school and university levels.
Despite international appeals and advocacy efforts, the Taliban leadership has yet to heed the calls to reopen schools and universities for women and girls. In a recent meeting with a delegation from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Sirajuddin Haqqani urged people to remain patient over the issue of girls’ education.
However, women and girls across Afghanistan assert that their patience has worn thin, and they want their right to education to be reinstated.
As the world watches, the plight of Afghan girls and women remains a stark reminder of the challenges faced in the region.