To mark the International Women’s Day, the Embassy of Finland in Kabul wants to emphasize the importance of improving female literacy in Afghanistan, where only one in five women can read. According to the Survey of the Afghan People (The Asia Foundation, 2017), the women in Afghanistan considered illiteracy their gravest concern, even ahead of the security challenges. Finland supports women in Afghanistan to learn to read and write through a UNESCO programme “Enhancing Literacy in Afghanistan” (ELA).
Farkhunda, 22, is one of the beneficiaries of the UNESCO programme. She is a student at an adult literacy class in a village close to Kabul. Her life is very much limited to her village and she has little opportunity to explore outside of her home. She was happy when she learned that she would be taught by a female teacher. Also, because the literacy class is located in her village, she feels more motivated to attend it on a regular basis.
Now, Farkhunda feels that nothing can stop her dream to become literate.
Farkhunda says: “I had no permission to go to school because it was too far from my home and my parents said that the teachers in school would be male and we should not allow our daughter to learn from a male teacher. They also said these were cultural issues that we all should respect. Now that the ELA has been introduced in our village, I can see the stairs that will take me to my dreams.”
Farkhunda eyes shine brilliantly as she explains that she is now able to read and write some words. Now she is keen to learn more, and she will perhaps apply for a scholarship to continue her studies.
Just like Farkhunda, there are thousands of other Afghan girls who dream to be educated, but not all of them are able to achieve their dreams. Those who have joined the adult literacy classes feel that they have started their journey to achieve their dreams and step up on the first stair leading to a brighter future.