The Causes Of Afghanistan's High Illiteracy Rate Among Women
Increased illiteracy rate prevails in Afghanistan for various reasons, and the most affected group include women. Over the years, the country has tried to overcome the issue, but several factors tend to create a barrier. These causes include poverty, cultural traditions, and control of the Taliban. Each concept carries a different meaning to multiple cultures apart from Afghanistan. Some people may compare the country’s literacy level with other regions, but each is unique. Afghanistan is among the cultured countries that still practices traditional ways. It has also received media attention for engaging in unpleasant political movements and military war. Once these features are combined, they create an unconducive environment that cannot nurture education at a higher level.
Control of the Taliban was one of the significant causes of illiteracy among women in Afghanistan. It subjected them to suffering mainly at the education level. This political movement denied women literacy opportunities and made them inferior. The group aimed to restore honor and dignity among the females (Yazdi 40). It also focused on restoring Islamic laws and ban corruption. When the Taliban took over power, female doctors and civil servants got dismissed. Women were forced to wear burqas and leave schools and work. The armed group closed girls’ schools in big towns as well (Olesen 35). Upon confrontation, the Taliban’s spokesperson claimed that female education was still legal in Afghanistan, but the government could not afford to provide many services. The claim was untrue even as the Taliban tried to justify their actions by blaming the country’s financial state. Ideally, their dictatorial rule made female education popular in private homes. Women were no longer part of a higher society; instead, they learned various skills like sewing and weaving (Yazdi 41). When the Taliban heard about this, they pursued and eliminated these practices. Any woman caught training was punished, and it became a rule, which made it mandatory for young girls under eight years to memorize the Quran. Before the group took reign in 1996, the country’s education system was already under pressure from conflicts that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s (Barr). After the United States eliminated the Taliban’s reign, the countries education state did not improve. There were initiatives established to get all young women and girls to school, but these efforts failed when conflicts erupted once again. Over two-thirds of their girls did not attend school due to increased insecurity (Barr). Statistics suggest that 41% of schools lacked buildings, and many women lived far from nearby institutes (Bamik 83). The western’s mission to eradicate this militant group caused significant damage and displaced people away. As a result, citizens, most especially girls, could not have access to available schools. Most families kept them at home and away from any danger, which led to increased illiteracy rate among women. The control of Taliban set Afghanistan’s education decades back. After its collapse, non-government organizations and donor support joined efforts to build schools, hire teachers, and reach out to women. These attempts made slight changes, but according to sources, millions of girls did not attend school, and a lot more went briefly and then stopped going altogether (Barr). The bottom line is that control of the Taliban caused illiteracy among women in Afghanistan. It still influences the education system to date.
Poverty plays a significant role in illiteracy among Afghanistan’s female population. After years of war, the country has received considerable damage to its economy, political arena, and social environment. The deterioration of these areas has led to increased poverty hence amplified illiteracy. Even though the government and supporting groups cover part of the female education, it remains unavailable to the most impoverished families. Such households have a meager income to take their girls through schools let alone keep them educated. As mentioned above, most institutes are far, and women cannot access their resources. They cannot afford to leave their homes for prolonged periods as well. Few families have resulted in early marriages instead of giving their girls education. Most of them do so to escape poverty. According to Haqmal, 75% of forced marriages involve monetary exchange, and a majority consists of underage girls (229). This trend has raised the number of school dropouts among young women. As one of the least developed countries worldwide, Afghanistan produces a low national income, which reflects on its poor state (“Women and Men in Afghanistan” 29). This impoverished condition has left many women in lousy health and without proper nutrition (IRA 14). Consequently, these individuals cannot withstand the average learning session or attend one in the first place. Poverty creates a series of issues, and in Afghanistan’s case, families are unaware of the importance of female education. Most of their communities are blind to their idea such that they do not send their girls to school. Others consider female education a social taboo that should not be encouraged. As a result, they become slaves to poverty. Statistics suggest that the highest percentage of Afghans live below the average poverty line of $1 a day (Warren 55). The amount cannot sustain a family, especially those led by women. Poverty enhanced by lack of jobs causes about 90% of illiteracy among women in Afghanistan (Haqmal 229). These consequences are a result of the prolonged war, which created hatred and enmity. Some women were given away as compensation for criminal acts. A 2009 study reveals that over 10.3% of families failed to take their girls to school due to poverty (Haqmal 234). Furthermore, those stricken by illnesses could not afford to visit a doctor and thus did not attend school. Poverty is a serious issue that makes life a harsh reality, mainly to a girl-child and her right to education. For Afghanistan, the problem is nation-wide and, therefore, hugely influential to female literacy at a high level.
As one of the cultured country, traditional customs and behaviors towards women influence female education perception. To start with, their culture does not consider the concept important. Evidence points to the fact that Afghans give worse prospects to education among women (Bamik 83). It began long ago when the country decided to confine their women at home. During King Amanullah Khan’s reign, the female population gained slight freedom to acquire knowledge. However, tribal resistance became an issue inhibiting girl-child education. Khan introduced reform programs for female education between 1919 and 1929 (Bamik 84). Traditional families and elders opposed this ideology. He wanted to pave the way for girls and women to attend school, but his attempts met substantial rebellion, which forced him out of his throne and away from Afghanistan. When Habibullah Kalakami took over, he abolished female education for their women, both locally and beyond boundaries. Despite modernization over the years, the country maintains particular norms of women as home keepers. Some communities consider schooling girls as a social taboo. Others call it a disgrace for various religious reasons. Afghans who believe such notions believe that a woman should spend her time raising children than attending school. They ignore the fact that a woman can become a better mother with an education. As part of the Afghan’s cultural background, girls get married at a young age, which forces them to drop out of school. Based on Qayuome, it is customary to marry at a tender age, which accounts for 39.4% of school withdrawals (34). According to De Leede, families keep these girls indoors to preserve their honor (8). Most households practice this outdated approach to avoid gossip that can bring shame to the girl’s entire family. The communities they live in disapprove of women and girls leaving their homesteads. Some of their religious beliefs also stimulate cultural reasons for denying girls education. For example, young girls should not be in the company of men unless it is their husband or sons. Some tribes do not allow their women or girls in a male-dominated establishment. They prefer keeping them indoors or at proximity. That is to say, Afghanistan’s education system has yet to change people’s traditional mindsets fueled by cultural norms. Scholars agree that the country often denies women education due to community beliefs. When girls reach puberty, society expects them to prepare for marriage. They cannot travel far from home as tradition dictates. A majority live away from nearby schools, and therefore, they have to forego an education to respect outdated norms.
Across the world, some countries are poor and face issues similar to Afghanistan. However, they seem to have sound education systems for their women. In Africa, most regions have tribe challenges, but on the other hand, their efforts to gain knowledge have yet to succumb to cultural differences. Unlike Afghanistan, they have embraced modernization. Even if modernization has proved to be effective in dealing with illiteracy, the latter has a limitation in the fact that some societies are still rigid towards westernization. The reason is that western culture has been associated with erosion of traditions and cultural practices. Consequently, educating women has greatly been avoided. This country should also take necessary measures to reduce their communities’ traditional mindsets regarding women’s roles in society. Families should be aware of the importance of girl-child education. Middle East regions have deep-rooted cultures, but they see the value of education among their girls. Although they are yet to advance in higher learning, their primary schools accommodate both sexes. The limitation to this counterargument is the fact that such regions are yet to achieve equality and equity regarding education among women because factors, such as traditions and early pregnancies still play a significant role in keeping them out of school. The above causes of illiteracy among women in Afghanistan have a connection to each other. The Taliban ruling pushed the country further into poverty by blocking girl schools and threatening those who attempted learning (Qayuome 35). Their ideologies emerged from an uneducated angle, which sought to oppress the citizens. As traditions demand, this militant group used outdated values to return women in their role at home or indoors. The militia even controlled the subjects taught at school such that they replaced science subjects with government-customized religious books. Evidence points to the Taliban’s regime as Afghanistan’s darkest moment education wise. The bottom line is that control of the Taliban, poverty, and cultural traditions are among the leading causes of illiteracy among women in Afghanistan. These issues began decades ago and have affected the entire education system. Women are the most disadvantaged since the early days because Afghan society has always considered them home representatives. Schooling them is also a social taboo to some tribes or a disgrace to others. Either way, these factors prevent girls from attending schools. Afghanistan has the lowest per capita income, which means women cannot afford education before covering the basic needs.