The traditionalist, male-dominated and often misogynist Afghan society has always considered women inferior to men. The oppression of women and prioritization of boys education over girls’ is one of the most stressing and unfortunate behaviors that have been transformed into a social and cultural norm as a consequence of rigid, inequitable system of a tribal society.
Jahantaab Ahmadi, a 25-year-old Afghan student and a mother of three children at the national University examination while nursing her two months old baby. Jahantaab had to sit on the cold floor to stop her child’s cries to avoid disturbing other exam participants.
Jahantaab is only one of them! Millions of other Afghan girls kill their dreams of going to university as a result of social, cultural and financial boundaries on their ways within the strange Afghan society which consequently results in under-age forced marriages and generations of uneducated girls.
Jahantaab is one in millions. Her passion and enthusiasm for education made her walk more than two hours on foot and drive 9 hours on the bumpy scattered roads of Daikundi to sit the annual National University entrance examination. Her dedication and uphill battle to get a place at the university displays her genuine commitment to create opportunities for herself and open the doors to thousands of other hopeless Afghan girls who are even in more isolated death-threatening circumstances.
Primarily Zahra Yagana, an Afghan female activist and the founder of the “Green Home” invited Jahantaab to her house in Kabul, Afghanistan. This was to help her continue her education in the capital of Afghanistan. The team of ‘Green Home’ works to make the Afghan society more understanding and friendly through campaigning, social, cultural and academic events.
The Afghan Youth Association (AYA) started a campaign on the GoFundme page to raise money for Jahantaab’s education. AYA is a youth association working to bring all the Afghan Youth together through social, cultural and academic events.
Women empowerment and empowering women is one of our core values within the AYA constitution. Our successful campaign to raise nearly £11000 within less than three days depicts our hard work and dedication in making a difference in our society, but most importantly it is an indication of the degree of help and support available from all around the world.
Jahantaab Ahmadi is not only an iconic symbol for the remaining thousands of the Afghan girls who are isolated and socially imprisoned within the patriarchal Afghan society where women are considered inferior to men – she is a sharp poisonous dagger at the heart of a system that appreciates gender segregation, promotes sexism and prioritises boys’ education over girls’.
Jahantaab’s commitment and determination hasn’t only ignited a light of hope in the heart of her academic career but has given millions of other Afghan men and women to break the chains open and free themselves from social and cultural isolation to determine their destiny by their own hands – Jahantaab is leading everyone to a concrete path to success.
Here in AYA, Jahantaab’s campaign is one of our success stories. We believe our communities within our society require to remove the patriarchal wall of gender segregation for the better and more understanding construction of our society.
We don’t need a systematic mechanism to create more opportunities for women. Women are more than able to create more opportunities for and speak for themselves. What we need to do is far simpler – we just need to mind our own business and stop being an obstacle in their way!
Note: A special thanks to Omar Fiazallah for proofreading this article.
Parwiz Karimi is a student of Chemical and Energy Engineering at the University of Leeds and the President/Founder of the Afghan Youth Association.