28 March 2023

Devastated and dispirited: Barred from continuing their education, girls in Afghanistan lose hope

"I began to feel a deep voice in my heart. It wants to scream out – so loud – and I feel like something inside of me needs to escape." Children around Afghanistan grabbed their backpacks, uniforms and pencils, rejoicing as schools reopened in March after the long winter break. But for 1 million girls, the year only promises crushed hopes and…, Arezo, "It has been more than 540 days since I have been in a classroom. I’ve been counting. If schools do not open, I will have to keep counting and this depression will keep going." Arezo would have been in grade 11 this year - her penultimate year of secondary school. But now her heart is heavy with the rubble of her crushed dreams. She wanted to…, Mursal, "After the schools closed, I continued learning at home. I started learning guitar by watching videos online." "The initial weeks were gruesome and very tiresome. I did not have any hope at first. But then I told myself, 'Mursal, you cannot just stay still.' So I started studying from some of the books I have at home. I wanted to keep myself busy…, Rabia, "For every year of my studies, I have been first in my class."  At 16, Rabia should be attending high school and looking towards university. She would be in grade 11 this year, but her opportunities are now murky as the classroom remains off limits for her. But Rabia is determined to keep learning, in any way can. "I have been trying to study on…