“We could never talk about attending school or getting an education with my father since he was very strict about it and he believed that girls should not study” recalled Nayima.
Like many girls in Afghanistan, Nayima dreamed of going to school; however, she was not able to until she was 13-years-old. Growing up, not only were opportunities for girls’ education scarce, but she faced threats of violence even within her own home.
In 2014, Save the Children began providing an Accelerated Learning Program through its STAGES project near Nayima’s home. Nayima now had an opportunity to realize her dream; however, she needed to convince her father to allow her as sometimes traditional beliefs undermine girls’ education in Afghanistan. Only after long discussions involving Shura members and teachers explaining the advantages and benefits of education, in particularly to the girls’, father until he was convinced to let her study.
“Now, all of my daughters are studying in government schools and I am extremely thankful to this initiative which helped me to understand to change my attitude towards girls’ education. This is very important for them and for their future and I wish them to have a very prosperous and happy life in peaceful country” said Nayima’s father.
Despite now being in school, Nayima’s challenges continued. When she was only 16-years-old she became engaged. However, that did not stop her – she knew the importance of her education. Nayima’s mother spoke with her in-laws to allow her to go school after her marriage and they agreed. Nayima is now 18-years-old and going to school every day. She wants to be a doctor though she realizes that it is a very challenging in the context she lives and nonetheless she will fight for it.
Nayima continued, “We do not have female doctors in our community and I think providing healthcare and teaching are the most important and critical vocations in our country. These two professions are highly required if we want to achieve peace, prosperity and development of our country. I was not able to read and write but now I am extremely happy and trying all my best to achieve my dream.”
In Afghanistan, 35% of Afghan girls are married before the age of 18 and 9% are married before their 15th birthday. Education remains key as girls who do not study are three times more likely to marry before the age of 18 than girls who have completed secondary education or higher.
The STAGES project continues to support girls by giving them an opportunity to receive an education in accelerate learning classes like Nayima has done and where she continues her studies today. #GirlsEducationChallenge #DayoftheGirl #IDG2019