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From working in a factory to attending school in Afghanistan

July's Peace Mail arrives from Afghanistan where you are helping girls all over the countryside attend school. The Church World Service in Pakistan and Afghanistan are working in communities to educate parents about the importance of schooling girls through to enrolment & attendance.

Absham* shares his wonderful story with you here.

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My name is Absham* and I work for the Church World Service in Pakistan and Afghanistan (CWS-P/A). I am responsible for speaking with fathers about their daughters coming to school. In Afghanistan, where so few girls attend school, community-wide meetings and discussions help fathers grasp how much a girl’s education matters. We call these meetings “Awareness Sessions” and this is where I first met Saeed Mohammed.

Saeed works in a nearby brick making factory and, until recently, his 10 year old daughter Leena* accompanied him every day to work in the factory to help earn money for the household. Both father and daughter did hard labour from early morning until late in the evening.

I spoke to the group of fathers about the importance of educating children, especially girls and told of some real-life stories of how education can build the future of children as well as their parents. I shared with the group that the duty of a parent to send their children to school is based on Islamic beliefs and in the Afghan constitution.

A few days after the Awareness Session, Saeed met with my team and other fathers he knew to discuss sending Leena to school and no longer taking her to work in the brick factory. A few more days passed and then after a final hour long conversation, Saeed was convinced and promised to enrol his daughter in the local school for girls.

To ensure it all ran smoothly, I met with Saeed and Leena a few days later and was pleased to hear that Leena was to start school that week. Saeed was happy and pleased that he had made the right decision and added “I am really feeling proud of myself now, because everyone at my home appreciates me for sending my daughter to school. Even one of my neighbours was saying that you are a very good father to your children.”

“Everyone at home appreciates me for sending my daughter to school.”

Moreover, Saeed has been sharing his story with other fathers in the community to convince them to do the same for their daughters. What a wonderful outcome!

- Absham*

* Names have been changed to protect identities

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Thirty years of chronic instability and war in Afghanistan have had a dramatic impact on the welfare of its people and its development as a nation, with Afghanistan being ranked as the least peaceful nation in the world by the 2013 Global Peace Index. These volatile conditions have had a dramatic impact on children’s education and wellbeing in Afghanistan. The level of education provided to young women has been shown as the best predictor of a well-developed nation, with widespread education for girls being linked to improvements in a nation’s health, economic growth, as well as child and maternal mortality rates. While young girls in Afghanistan have over the years been subject to violence and intimidation from the Taliban to prevent them from attending school, girls are also unable to attend school due to the poor socio-economic status of their families and a lack of awareness of the importance of girls’ education. Despite this, progress is being made, with 2.4 million Afghan girls enrolled in school in 2013, compared to just 5,000 in 2001 - a 480 fold increase. With your support Act for Peace is improving education opportunities for Afghanistan’s girls, working through its partner Church World Service Pakistan/Afghanistan (CWSP/ A) to open up opportunities for young girls and women previously denied access to the classroom. This program operates in the Laghman and Nangarhar provinces with an aim to increase enrolment and improve the quality of education provided.

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