“Today marks a sad and sobering milestone – 1,000 days since the announcement banning girls in Afghanistan from attending secondary schools”, UNICEF Executive Director, Catherine Russell, reports. “A Thousand days out-of-school amounts to 3 billion learning hours lost – that’s a billion lessons left unlearned every year. For 1.5 million girls, this systematic exclusion is not only a blatant violation of their right to education, it also equates to dwindling opportunities and deteriorating mental health.”

“The rights of children, especially girls, cannot be held hostage to politics. Their lives, their futures, their hopes and their dreams are hanging in the balance. The impact of the ban goes beyond the girls themselves. It exacerbates – the executive director of UNICEF ​​continues – the ongoing humanitarian crisis and has serious ramifications for Afghanistan’s economy and development trajectory. Education doesn’t just provide opportunities. It protects girls from early marriage, malnutrition and other health problems, and bolsters their resilience to disasters like the floods, drought and earthquakes that frequently plague Afghanistan.”

“My UNICEF colleagues – explain further Catherine Russell – are working hard to support all children in Afghanistan. Together with partners, they are keeping 2.7 million children in primary education, running community-based education classes for 600,000 children – two thirds of them girls – training teachers, and doing everything they can to keep the educational infrastructure going. As we mark this grim milestone, I urge the de facto authorities to allow all children to resume learning immediately. And I urge the international community to remain engaged and support these girls who need us more than ever. No country will get ahead if half its population is left behind.”

Notes to the UNICEF’s editor
In 2023 in Afghanistan, UNICEF reached:

– Over 20 million people with primary health care services, including 1 million living in hard-to-reach areas through mobile teams

– 2.1 million people with safe water, and 1.1 million with sanitation services

– 4 million children with measles vaccinations

– 715,000 severely malnourished children with in-patient treatment

– 686,000 children (60 percent girls) with education through 21,355 community-based education classes

– 170,000 vulnerable families with social assistance, and 86,000 with cash for winter needs

– 70,000 children, including unaccompanied and separated children, with case management services

On the cover photo, Afghan woman in Burqa ©chomplearn/Shutterstock.com