At a UN-backed workshop in Paktika, religious scholars and community leaders identified illiteracy as a significant barrier to the eastern province’s development, and called on women and girls to focus on education in the interest of achieving sustainable development.
Organized by the regional office of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the gathering was arranged to promote discussion on gender issues in Paktika, where up to 98 per cent of school-age girls do not have access to education.
There was unanimity among participants in concluding that while education is fully in line with Sharia law, harmful traditional practices and the lack of qualified female teachers remain the key challenges affecting girls’ access to education in the province.
Religious leaders, community elders, Government officials, representatives of civil society organizations and journalists from the provincial capital Sharana and districts around Paktika made up the 25-person group of participants. Those participants called upon the Government and its partners to pay special attention to girls’ education in Paktika, and appealed to the media to help create awareness about the harmful practices that are hindering the ability of girls to get an education.
In 2009, Afghanistan enacted the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) law, which criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women, including rape and beating, and specifies punishment for perpetrators. UNAMA’s latest report on the implementation of the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) law, released in December 2013, found that Afghan authorities registered more cases of violence against women in 2013, but the number of prosecutions and convictions under the law remained low, with most cases settled by mediation.
UNAMA is a political mission established by the Security Council in 2002 at the request of the Government to assist it and the people of Afghanistan in laying the foundations for sustainable peace and development in the country. The mission is mandated to support the Afghan Government and relevant international and local non-governmental organizations to assist in the full implementation of the fundamental freedoms and human rights provisions of the Afghan Constitution and international treaties to which Afghanistan is a State party, in particular those regarding the full enjoyment by women of their human rights.