To celebrate International Literacy Day, hereâ€™s a post written by Katie Murray at Barakat, one of our nonprofit partners, about the work they do to provide education to women in South and Central Asia.
At the age of 18, Nazeera is attending school for the first time. Like many Afghan women, she didn’t attend school as a child because her parents resisted educating her. But now Nazeera attends a literacy program run by Jolkona partner Barakat, where she is finally learning to read and write. Having been denied the opportunity to gain a formal education at a younger age, Nazeera plans to pass on her belief in the importance of education to her children. Thanks to Jolkona donors, Nazeera and nearly 250 other women and girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been able to receive an education and improve their lives and the lives of their families.
An innovative approach to women’s literacy
Only approximately 13 percent of females in Afghanistan are literate. After 25 years of war, the education and empowerment of women and children is crucial to the future of Afghanistan. As a recent post about the United Nations Millennium Development Goals explains, educating women is a key to their empowerment and to the long-term development of nations.
In Afghanistan, however, girls are sometimes forbidden from being educated if programs are not separated by gender, because there are strict cultural codes that restrict the interactions between boys and girls. Barakatâ€™s Womenâ€™s Literacy Program provides education for women and girls who are not able to attend school for cultural and religious regions. Instead, these women are taught in the homes of local families. This is a valuable incentive for parents like Nazeera’s who may be reluctant to send their daughters to a public school. Barakat offers both lower-level literacy courses (called Sowat Amausi, meaning “to teach one to become literate”) and higher-level literacy courses (called Sowat Hayati, which means “literate for life”).
Nazeeraâ€™s situation is all too prevalent across Afghanistan. Barakatâ€™s literacy courses work to raise awareness about the right to an education, while improving the low literacy rates in the regions where it operates. Barakat believes that the way forward in Afghanistan can only be paved by an educated, empowered populace that respects individual and human rights.
Barakat works to strengthen the fundamental human right to education in South and Central Asia by providing exemplary basic education, increasing access to higher education and advancing literacy, particularly for women and children.Â Running five schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Barakat works towards its mission by supporting local, innovative organizations that are making a real difference in the places they work.
This summer, Katie Murray interned as a Development Assistant at Barakat in Cambridge, Mass. She is currently entering her senior year at Boston University, where she studies International Relations. After graduating, she hopes to pursue a career in the field of international development with a focus on gender.