(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Joelyn Baluyut |
Doha, Qatar: In a session at the Doha Forum yesterday, global leaders convened to address the urgent need for reconstructing education for women in Afghanistan. The dialogue focused on strategies to empower Afghan women through education, with speakers emphasising the moral and strategic imperative of investing in the nation's educational sector.
H E Rina Amiri, Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights at the U.S. Department of State, stressed that investing in Afghanistan's education is not only a moral duty but a strategic necessity. She asserted that such investments are crucial for steering Afghanistan towards moderation and inclusivity, ensuring it doesn't become a threat to itself or its neighbours.
Former Minister of Education, Afghanistan and Professor of Practice, Thunderbird School of Global Management, H E Rangina Hamidi, shared a personal commitment to the cause.“.. My father took his five daughters out in 1981 to give them an opportunity to learn. One of his daughters came back in 2003 and committed her life to working for Afghan women and girls. I'm 47 today, I will continue to fight for them in the capacity I can no matter where I am until the day I die.”
The urgency of the situation was echoed by Alex Thier, CEO of Lapis Communications, who implored immediate action where he said“act now.” Thier highlighted the existing organisations tirelessly working to reach Afghan girls, emphasising the pressing need for support.
Roya Mahboob, CEO and Founder of Digital Citizen Fund, underscored the societal importance of women, stating that a society without women is not a society at all. She noted the financial repercussions of neglecting girls' education and called it a profound obligation to ensure that girls receive the opportunities they deserve.
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Dr. Ghulam Omar Qargha, a Fellow at Brookings Institute, urged a systematic approach,“have the courage to think outside of the box, look for solutions that haven't been a repetition of the same things, and look for new solutions that are locally driven, but globally effective.”
The session also tackled the challenging prospect of envisioning the future of education for Afghan women without the involvement of the Taliban leadership. Amiri acknowledged the difficulty of engaging the Taliban, noting their consistent unwillingness to participate in conversations with Afghan women leaders.
“We've have to have separate discussions behind closed doors – we have told them until they respect the rights of Afghan people, respect the rights of Afghan women's right to education, to work – that we are not moving towards the direction that they want, but we've told them that legitimacy will ultimately come from them sitting with Afghan women and Afghan people themselves.”
It can be noted that it has been two years since Taliban returned to power over Afghanistan.
Dr. Qargha meanwhile addressed the importance of creating spaces for dialogue and the need to push the Taliban to engage. He expressed hope that the Taliban would be willing to be part of the dialogue, highlighting the crucial role of both sides in finding a solution.
Hamidi provided a firsthand account of the challenges faced by Afghan women, detailing the restrictions placed on girls beyond sixth grade. Despite the shrinking spaces, she rejected the narrative that women and girls are incapable of changing their future, highlighting their resilience in finding ways to continue their education.
Amidst concerns about losing an entire generation if the Taliban continues to deny education, Amiri clarified that the goal is 'normalisation,' not 'recognition.' She stressed the coordinated efforts needed with the international community to achieve the desired normalisation.
Rangina also noted the international community's responsibility in deciding the fate of Afghanistan, stressing that the Afghan people did not ask for the Taliban to come to power. She called on the international community to figure out how to deal with the Taliban if they remain in power for the next five or ten years.“I wish I had an answer to that, but unfortunately I don't.”
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