Supporting V-Leadership in Kabul, Afghanistan
V-Day has committed to supporting PWCE (Promoting Women Capabilities by Education) to run an extraordinary leadership center in the heart of Kabul. The center is providing free, non-formal education in literacy, science, computers, family planning and English for Afghan women and girls, as well as legal, psychosocial and counseling support. It is currently serving 150 and has the capacity to serve 250.
Longtime V-Day activist Fareba recently wrote to us about the center:
March 19th, 2014
Why the educational Center?
Considering the situation of Afghanistan in the past four decades, one realizes that no slogan, politics, donation, propaganda, war, foreign country and foreign troops can assist to achieve women's rights and human rights, build a democratic political culture and achieve peace in a country as long as the people, especially the women, have no knowledge and education about their rights.
If women lack education, they become the most primary victims. They cannot rise, can not wake up, cannot cry for justice and cannot believe in themselves. They cannot trust themselves to rely on their power and cannot defend their basic rights. Thus, they obviously will not have any hope for the change. This ignorance resulted in psychiatric problems and hundreds of suicide cases among Afghan women. Particularly in a country such as Afghanistan, where either the laws work against women and do not protect them or if there are some laws they are not implemented practically and remain in paper.
Fundamentalist ideology and terror prevailed all over our chauvinistic society in the past decades which badly suppressed Afghan women consciousness. The Taliban and other anti-women groups used different tools, such as culture, traditions and even mis-used religion t oppress women because of their fear from women awareness and empowerment. So one of the first and important reasons for starting the educational center is to help the women to understand who they are, what is their responsibility, which kind of rights they have and what more rights they should have. It is not just enough to be woman. The important point is to be a conscious and aware woman. This is the reason we emphasize on education as the most sharpest weapon to make women aware of their power and convince them to rise for change and justice.
In addition, by getting education they can be self-confident and economically independent of men which is also very essential for a woman to break the chains of violence and ignorance.
We need an educational revolution in Afghanistan. Free education centers should be available in every city and village. Gun should be replaced by pen. That was great if the corrupt Afghan government had spent a fraction of the billions of dollars in aid in education.
About the Center
The education center is located in Kabul. It has been officially opened in 14th of February as part of the One Billion Rising. Now we have almost 150 admitted women and many more are coming for admission almost every day. Women of every age and every ethnic group are present in the classes. We mostly accept women of 15-year or above. Many children of different ages (8 to 12) contacted us and complained about the poor quality of education in public schools and asked for help with their studies. Unfortunately we refused to admit them as we do not have enough space and, particularly, the focus of the center is on older girls and women who could not go to school when they were in their school-going-age or suffered violence.
The center has different classes for different subjects.
- Through science classes (mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics) the center assists high-school-going girls (those who cannot afford to go to private science courses) to prepare for the university admission exam. Science is very important for girls and women in a country like Afghanistan. For instance, some men get married for the second or third time after blaming their first wife/wives for not being able to give them a son. And because of ignorance, the women also accept this accusation without knowing that it is actually men's Y-chromosome that determines the sex of the baby not the woman.
- English and Computer classes is to help them to catch with today's level of education. Without English you cannot use computer properly and without computer you cannot get in touch with outside world. Also, English is becoming essential to find a good job even in Afghanistan.
-Literacy courses are to enable them how to read, write and count.
-Psychiatric help in order to prevent suicide and mental illnesses and disorders.
-Legal seminars and consultancy is to make them aware of their legal right and show them the way to fight against domestic violence.
-Every four months a gynecologist will visit the center to give basic education on contraceptives and birth control methods.
Words of the students
My name is Najia. I am 18 years old. In our village the security situation was bad. My family didn't allow me to attend school. We are very poor. In our home everyone paid attention to boys and they are sent to school. We girls are completely neglected. When I learnt that this center did not take money from us I enrolled myself here so I can learn how to read and write and understand basic English and computer.
My name is Friba. I am 20 years old and I live alone with my mother. We are very poor. My mother is a cleaner in a private school and I have come here to save myself from illiteracy. This way I can help my mother. I am very happy if I work hard. I know I will have a bright future.
My name is Maleeha. I am 22 years old. I can't attend school at this age but I want to learn something because I can't find a job because I am an illiterate. This center will make my life better.
My name is Frishta. When I saw the board of this center and learnt that there are some seminars related to psychiatric and mental health issues, I wrote my name. I am ashamed to say that I attempted to commit suicide several times because I have suffered a lot in my life during the war. I want to study and again become hopeful about life.
My name is Alia. I am subjected to violence by my husband. I came here to find a way out of this violence. May be if I learn something and financially get independent, it will help me to control my life. Also I want to join those classes that are giving legal consultancy.