Plan International Australia is appalled by reports from Afghanistan today that secondary schools have been closed yet again for adolescent girls, on the same day these girls were set to resume classes.
The charity for girls’ equality urges the Afghan authorities to fulfil their obligation under the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and ensure that all girls have access to education.
Despite the country’s education ministry confirming that all boys and girls would be returning to secondary school today and be able to access an education, Taliban leadership announced that the decision had been reversed and that all secondary school classes for girls were to be suspended until further policy had been determined.
Calling the abrupt decision “heart-breaking and deeply frustrating”, Plan International Australia CEO Susanne Legena said that after being barred from schools for more than six months, thousands of adolescent Afghan girls had arrived to school gates this morning only to be turned away.
“It is devastating to read reports this morning of these girls and young women, brimming with hope and joy and excitement after waiting so long to return to school, and having that all snatched away at the school gates. Hearing accounts of the tears, anger, confusion and distress this has caused girls and their families is simply heart-breaking,” she said.
“Education is everything. It unlocks doors and dreams, and unleashes potential.
“Protecting and advancing the right of girls to go to school is essential and we call on all actors to ensure that every girl in Afghanistan can return to school imminently. Denying any girl their right to a quality education is extremely damaging and will have profound consequences for the rest of her life.
“It is especially critical that the hard-won progress we have seen in girls’ education in Afghanistan over the last 20 years is not rolled back. Girls and women must be protected from the threat of sexual violence and forced marriage, and remaining in school is one of the most effective ways we can do this.
“For girls who have experienced a lifetime of conflict and upheaval, school provides a protective space and a sense of normality. Education provides a passport for a positive future – take it away from girls and you shatter their dreams and aspirations.
“We cannot let another generation lose their right to learn and the opportunity to develop the skills they need to fulfill their potential and to contribute to society,” she said.
For further comment contact Plan International Australia Media and PR Advisor Claire Knox 0452326549