“Reach for the stars, you are important”

Kiwis send messages of support to girls in Afghanistan


New Zealanders are being asked to stand alongside girls in Afghanistan, many of whom are still struggling to access education since the transition of power last August.

More than two months on from the Taliban extending its ban on secondary school girls attending classes, a new online campaign launched by Save the Children New Zealand asks Kiwis to share a “message of hope” for girls in Afghanistan.

Already, hundreds of Kiwis have signed up through the online portal, sending messages asking girls to stay strong: “I want you to remember this,” says one. “Nothing stays the same, everything changes. Reach for the stars. You are important, your thoughts and feelings are valued.”

“To a special girl across the world from me,” says another. “Don’t ever give up.”

Save the Children Chief Executive Heidi Coetzee says education is a lifeline for all children, especially girls.

“Without it they are at increased risk of violence, abuse and exploitation. There are many reasons why girls cannot access education in Afghanistan. Cultural traditions and women’s role in society are the biggest challenges. Insecurity, poverty, poor infrastructure, inadequate learning materials and a lack of qualified female teachers are other barriers.

“Our messages of hope provides a way to stand in solidarity with the girls in Afghanistan who are struggling to access their basic right to education and to show these girls they are not forgotten.” 

Ms Coetzee says the messages will be translated and delivered through a virtual platform to girls currently attending Save the Children’s community-based education classes. To ensure children still have access to education during the last 10 months, Save the Children has been running these classes and providing children and teachers with learning and classroom kits. The organisation has also been working with female secondary school graduates to support them to become teachers and to pass the university entrance exam.  

It is now more than two months since the Taliban extended its ban on secondary school girls attending school. An analysis by Save the Children, UNICEF and its education cluster partners released last month showed the majority of secondary school girls – around 850,000 out of 1.1 million – were not attending classes.

Ms Coetzee says Save the Children is calling on the Taliban to allow girls of all ages back to school.

“There is no issue that can justify the continuation of a policy that denies girls access to education. All children should have the chance to go to school, to learn and contribute to society.”

To send a message of hope, go to: https://bit.ly/SCNZMessagesofHope