The United Nations cultural agency UNESCO said on Thursday it has decided to dedicate the 2023 International Day of Education (January 24) to Afghan girls and women.
On the occasion of an event to be organized at the UN headquarters in New York, UNESCO will renew its call to immediately restore their fundamental right to education, the agency said.
“No country in the world should bar women and girls from receiving an education. Education is a universal human right that must be respected,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement.
“The international community has the responsibility to ensure that the rights of Afghan girls and women are restored without delay. The war against women must stop,” she added.
Last month, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) suspended university education for women. This followed an earlier directive barring girls from attending secondary school.
According to UNESCO, 2.5 million (80%) of school-aged Afghan girls and young women are out of school, 1.2 million of whom were denied access to secondary schools and universities following the decision of IEA authorities.
The agency said that the decisions by the IEA authorities in Afghanistan threaten to wipe out the development gains made by the country over the past 20 years. From 2001 to 2021, Afghanistan saw a tenfold increase in enrolment at all education levels from around 1 million students to around 10 million, with the support of the international community, including UNESCO.
During this period, the number of girls in primary school increased from almost zero to 2.5 million. Women’s participation in Afghan higher education also increased almost 20 times, from 5,000 students to over 100,000. Literacy rates for women almost doubled, from 17% of women being able to read and write in 2001 to nearly 30% for all age groups combined, UNESCO said.—Ariana news