Women and girls attacked for getting an education

Rachel Milton | Dec 03, 2016
AWRC lesson in Afghanistan
6th December is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada to remember the École Polytechnique massacre of 1989 where 14 women were killed simply because they were women.

At the École Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec, Marc Lépine killed fourteen women before committing suicide. His reasoning was that he hated feminists. So this is a day to reflect on violence against women and girls and why it is still occurring in our modern world. It gives people an opportunity to think about the women and girls who are still killed every day for exercising their basic right to education; just like those women who lost their lives that day in Montreal.

The phenomenon of perpetuating violence against girls trying to get an education is still a very real concern and it happens everywhere. In places like Afghanistan, girls put their lives in danger just for going to school.

Education is not a privilege, it is a human right

Despite the efforts of international conventions that protects women and girls’ right to education; (i.e. the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women), girls and women continue to be discriminated against in accessing education.

The Human Development Report ranked Afghanistan as 169th out of 187 countries in education in 2013. According to UNICEF, the literacy rate of boys is 62% whereas only 32% of girls are literate. The net school enrolment of boys is 62% to 35% for girls and the net attendance rate is 47% of boys to 27% of girls. The gap between boys and girls is wide, and worrying.

The threat of terrorist attacks looms over girls who dare to pursue their right to education. According to the UN, in 2015, there were at least 185 documented attacks on schools in Afghanistan. Most of the attacks were credited to armed groups that oppose girls’ education. Some of the attacks include getting acid thrown into their face and poisoned drinks.

Efforts of woman’s rights organisations

Womankind’s partners in Afghanistan - Afghan Women’s Resource Centre (AWRC), Afghan Women’s Network (AWN), and the Afghan Women’s Education Centre (AWEC) - are fighting to help women pursue their right to education through sessions and trainings.

Between 2013 and 2015, a total of 135 awareness programs have occurred and reached a total 3,927 school girls. The topics covered included women’s role in the community, girls’ right to education, right to free legal services and many more. The training positively impacted the education of girls and women’s ability to participate in decision-making at community level.

Our partner Humanitarian Assistance for Women and Children of Afghanistan (HAWCA) also has been supporting women and girls in Afghanistan by assisting those in poverty and without fundamental rights. Some of the work this organisation does to help women is it runs legal programmes, give women education and work skills, and strengthens women to have their voices heard.

As we think about the 14 women who lost their lives at École Polytechnique in 1989, we should reflect on the millions of women and girls in Canada and across the world that are deprived of their right to education, and the women’s rights organisations fighting to change that. 

Leave a comment

Go back