Imagine your daughter was getting the education that you could only dream of. She was thriving, becoming an accomplished student with a bright future ahead of her. Now imagine it could all be taken away from her, and you would have no way of stopping it. This is the fear that Somaia’s mother now faces.

Meet Somaia

We met Somaia at a War Child Safe Space in Kandahar, Afghanistan. She was sitting in a corner of the room consumed by a book. Somaia has already accomplished what legions of women and girls before her had been denied – she can read. She was taught here by War Child’s staff and now enjoys nothing more than losing herself in a story.

“The things I learn here make school easier,” she told us. “The children who have been here know how to read and draw already.”

The Concern Over Current Events

Now, with the US and the Taliban in talks to end the long-simmering war, many girls and women are conflicted. Everyone is praying for peace but some wonder at what cost. If the US follows through with its plan to immediately withdraw following a peace agreement, there are any number of extreme groups ready to fill the vacuum. And few, if any, have respect for a girl’s right to education.

That Somaia is able to go to school at all is testament to the progress girls’ rights have made in Afghanistan over the last decade and a half. When the Taliban were last in power, girls, Somaia’s mother included, were barred from learning. They were practically house-bound and they faced the very real prospect of being forced into an early marriage. Years of work with communities have seen attitudes evolve and that oppressive governance is being slowly lifted. It would be a calamity if that progress were reversed.

What We Do

War Child has been a significant part of the positive change. We have been working in Afghanistan since 2003. We offer young children like Somaia safe spaces where they can begin their education before transitioning into the school system. We offer business training to their mothers and loans so that they can set up small enterprises and support their families. We offer free legal counsel and representation to girls who have been abused, attacked or charged with ‘crimes’ such as fleeing a violent husband. We also work extensively with judges, the police, religious and community leaders and men and boys to educate them about women and girls’ rights and to change entrenched, discriminatory attitudes.

Where You Come In

There is still much to be done. Despite all the efforts put into getting girls into school, two-thirds are still not being educated. Early forced marriage is still far too commonplace. And the number of sexual violence cases handled by our lawyers in country has stayed constant over the last several years.

Nobody can be sure what will happen when the US leaves but Somaia’s mother needs your help to resist any attempt to return to Afghanistan’s dark past.

The surest way to frustrate any attempts to roll back girls’ rights is to reinforce and expand on the positive changes that have been made. That is why it is so important that we recommit to the country and to our work—giving girls the opportunity to take control of their future. And this is why your support at this difficult moment is so vital—to ensure our work continues to empower Afghan girls.

 

Donate today to continue the progress of girls’ rights in Afghanistan

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