I count myself among those lucky girls who were born at the beginning of a period of peace in Afghanistan. We have had war in my country for nearly three decades. Girls have been the biggest victims of the conflicts.
Under the Taliban regime, women and girls were forced to wear ridiculous burqas in public. They were forbidden to work outside the home, banned from attending schools. They were not allowed to ride bicycles, laugh loudly, or do many other enjoyable things.
After the fall of the Taliban’s regime, there was a huge change in the everyday lives of people, especially in the status of girls. In general, the girls’ situation improved from 2001 until 2014. But now, with the reemergence of the Taliban, ISIS, and other terrorist groups in our country, things are getting worse.
Education is very important for the development of a nation. The more educated people are, the more developed the nation is. I believe education should be available to both boys and girls equally. There should be no discrimination and no difference between male education and female education, although if there is discrimination it should not be against girls. There is a saying, “If you educate a man, you educate a man; but if you educate a girl or woman, you educate a nation.” I really believe this is true. Girls’ education is crucial for a nation and every society needs to ensure girls are educated.
Security is also important for girls to get an education. Unfortunately, the security situation is getting worse, especially in northern Afghanistan. For two weeks after the Taliban’s attacks on the city of Kunduz I was not in school. Many of the schools in the neighboring provinces of Takhar and Baghlan closed because of the Taliban’s attacks in Kunduz.
My school reopened on October 17th. Some of the students in my school are afraid so they have not come back to school. I think everything is normal now except unfortunately in Kunduz the schools and universities still are closed. This is very disappointing. While my school was closed I studied at home with my sister and brother, because I have big dreams and goals to help my country. I know that I will not achieve my goals if I don’t get the required education.
The only way we can fight with these terrorist groups is to fight with our pens. We have to make the terrorists understand that they cannot make us live in darkness, like they do. They are weak. They have no common sense because they have been brainwashed. With education and solidarity we can bring peace to our nation.
International Day of the Girl was October 11th, and on that day I thought about how last year my school celebrated it and this year we could not. So many students could not even go to school on this important day. They spent the day at home in fear of the Taliban and other terrorist groups.
I am very hopeful for the future of my country. I hope that we will soon have a peaceful place to live. I hope that security will return and that all boys and girls will go back to school, and that soon all girls will be able to receive an education.
By Aida, age 14
Photo: Graham Crouch / World Bank