[First Lady Rula Ghani. | Photo Source: Flickr/USAID Afghanistan]
Last week, First Lady Rula Ghani announced plans for the Afghanistan’s first all women’s university—a major milestone for the conservative country which has historically oppressed women’s right to education.
“Building a university for girls is one of the promises of Mr. Ghani that he vowed during his presidential campaigns and now we are on the eve of its implementation,” Rula reportedly told the press during the January 20 announcement. “Those girls that are not allowed to study at other universities can continue their higher education at this university.”
The first-ever academic facility for women was promised by President Ashraf Ghani during his election campaign before he came to power in 2014.
Currently dubbed the Mawlana Afghan-Turk University, its inauguration date has not been released to media—but the 47-acre school in Kabul is expected to be built in the “near future,” with preparations already underway. It will be built in a joint effort with Turkey, and will also serve as a safe haven for women in pursuit of education in Afghanistan, according to government officials.
According to United Nations (UN) Women, Afghanistan—a country which has endured relentless attacks on girls who attempt to pursue an education—has a female literacy rate of around 20 percent. Millions of girls are forbidden from even attending primary school largely because extremists consider education for women to be “haram” or “unIslamic.” Additionally, 50 percent of existing schools in the country lack buildings and other essential resources.
Nasrin Oryakhil, a representative from Afghanistan’s Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, vowed to provide employment for the future university graduates.
“As the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, we are committed to providing jobs, training and entrepreneurship opportunities for graduates of the university,” she reportedly said.
Mark English, the chancellor of the American University in Afghanistan, also supported the project.
“The American University always supports anything that is going to advance the education for women in Afghanistan,” he reportedly said. “We are willing to give all of our support in terms of helping develop programs, and helping to increase their resources so that we can get this initiative started.”