We Stay and Deliver Until the Light Shines
Kabul 1990. I land in the capital of Afghanistan for my very first mission with the United Nations. Controlled by the government, Kabul was surrounded by the Mujahedeen. As a young female professional, living and working across the country, I felt protected by the Afghans, whether walking in the bustling cities or meeting with the Mujahedeen in the rural countryside. Afghanistan had already been at war for over ten years and we all worked with the hope that the fighting would come to an end soon.
In 2000, nearly ten years later, I returned to Afghanistan. I learnt of the secret underground schools run for girls; schools where girls, their families and their teachers were willing to risk their lives for the right to an education. There was a suffocating “peace,” but no justice: the rights of Afghan girls were being violated or under constant threat.
Today, 2021. The Afghans have suffered a brutal armed conflict for over 40 years. They have experienced the horrors of war and the injustice of gender-discrimination. They have lived through earthquakes, extreme poverty, droughts and a high rate of children and youth with disabilities - Afghanistan is one of most landmine-contaminated countries on Earth. Generation after generation suffers.
This cannot continue in the name of any religion, belief, honorability or humanity. Afghanistan deserves nothing less than to recover and rebuild. It will need 50 per cent of its population - the girls and women - to help do so. We approach this imperative with both cautious optimism and our determination to stand up for humanity and for girls’ equal rights to an inclusive quality education.
Leaders across the UN and civil society are also stepping up the call for continued education in Afghanistan, especially for girls. “Now more than ever, Afghan children, women and men need the support and solidarity of the international community,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Numerous UN agencies, civil society organizations and strategic donor partners are responding with utmost urgency. UNICEF deployed its Director of Emergencies to Kabul within days and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has also arrived in the country. As the UN global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, Education Cannot Wait is also responding with speed, and we will stay and deliver, working closely with our in-country partners in Afghanistan.
With our established policy of “the urgency of now”, a call first made by Martin Luther King Jr., Education Cannot Wait will shortly release an emergency education funding allocation focusing on displaced girls and boys as our immediate priority. Some 400,000 school-aged Afghan children have already been forcibly displaced since January 2021 - a number that has increased since 15 August 2021. Thanks to our biggest private sector strategic donor - The LEGO Foundation and KIRKBI - ECW is able to swiftly release its emergency response.
To read the full story on Exposure WE STAY AND DELIVER UNTIL THE LIGHT SHINES by Education Cannot Wait - Education Cannot Wait (exposure.co)