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Adela, a nine-year-old Afghan girl in class at Charbagh-E-Safa Girls High School in Jalalabad. Photo by Act for Peace
Adela in class at Charbagh-E-Safa Girls High School in Jalalabad. Photo: Act for Peace

Giving the chance to learn

Afghanistan has been wrought with conflict for over 100 years, but supporting girls’ education is helping overcome injustice and oppression, writes Karen McGrath.

December in Australia is characterised by the Christmas spirit, but for Afghanistan December will be characterised by uncertainty as Australian and international troops withdraw after 12 years of occupation.

This will be a pivotal moment in Afghanistan’s history. Irrespective of whether Australian military occupation was a success or a failure, our true test as a nation comes now. Our true test is whether our country, our community and we as individuals will dedicate our efforts towards the security, freedom and prosperity of the Afghan people.

Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, argues the key lies in education—and more specifically, girls’ education.

Afghanistan is one of the hardest places in the world to be educated if you are a girl. Thirty years of chronic instability and conflict, and the almost complete lack of educational opportunities for children under the Taliban, have had a dramatic impact on children’s education and wellbeing in Afghanistan.

But things are changing and a new generation of Afghan women is being empowered to build a better future for themselves and their country. There are now 2.4 million Afghan girls enrolled in school, compared to just 5000 in 2001.

While the numbers are encouraging, Afghan girls still face barriers to receiving an education. Act for Peace is working with its local partner, Church World Service to confront injustice on the grassroots level.

Nine-year-old Adela is part of this program.

Without an education, Adela would face a future scarred by poverty and violence. Fortunately Adela has a brighter future ahead of her.

Going to school means that when she grows up, Adela will have the power to earn a decent living and support herself and her family. She will be able to stand up to discrimination, know her rights, and have the confidence to confront injustice and help build a more peaceful society.

Education confronts injustice head-on and is giving girls in Afghanistan the opportunity to escape a future of conflict and poverty. This year Act for Peace plans to reach 14 more schools and empower 3000 more girls like Adela to transform their futures.

This December we have an opportunity to give many more young girls like Adela the chance of a better future. As such, Christmas Bowl, the national Christmas Appeal from Act for Peace is supporting girls’ education in Afghanistan.

We believe education is the greatest Christmas present anyone could give.

The Christmas Bowl Appeal has been running for almost 65 years. Each year, the funds raised go towards supporting Act for Peace’s work around the world in the most conflict and disaster-affected communities.

To give, please free-call 1800 025 101, visit www.actforpeace.org.au/christmasbowl, pick up a Christmas Bowl envelope at your church or write to Locked Bag 199 QVB NSW 1230.

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