Political teacher. You can find the podcast “Skartveit” on PodMe and VG+
Norway can actually do something for Afghanistan’s women: give some of those expelled from university the opportunity to complete their education in Norway.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you see what’s happening in Afghanistan. The Taliban have shown their true colors. Again. Girls and women are denied education. Almost finishers never finish. Afghanistan is losing valuable knowledge. Women lose their independent life.
It was Ayesha Wolasmal who initiated the idea of me opening the door to some of the now closed women from Afghan universities. Provide them with scholarships and study places.
On the way to Kabul
Aisha Wollesmal’s family came to Norway as refugees from Afghanistan in 1986. Aisha was born the following year, and grew up in Grunerloka, one of a group of ten siblings. After visiting her parents’ homeland after her childhood vacation, she knows the society and culture there well.
Over the past 15 years, he has spent a large part of his life in Afghanistan. As a Norwegian soldier, a diplomat and an aid worker. Volasmal may now be the Norwegian with the closest ties to the Taliban.
When I met her earlier this week, she was on her way back to Kabul. He has been there regularly since the Taliban took over a year and a half ago. Through his work with health and vaccines, he meets with Taliban leaders in the capital, Kabul, and in conservative areas in the country’s south.
Tight jeans and free living
Everyone is having a bad time in Afghanistan right now. But there is no doubt that women and girls have it worse. They are again reduced to second-class citizens. So the best position. They are the property of man. The men of the family, be it husbands, fathers or brothers, decide on women. Yes, even a son can exercise authority over his mother if there are no other men in the family to take on that “responsibility”.
It is a heavy responsibility to carry. Young men who used to live freely in tight jeans suddenly find themselves in the role of protectors of their sisters and girlfriends. Fearing what might happen to the mullah in the mosque, fathers who proudly send their daughters to school must keep them at home. Or a neighborhood watchman.
Over the past few years many Taliban leaders have also sent their daughters to school. There is division within the movement in its views on women and education. In Kandahar the most conservative decide. This is where the Taliban originated. This is where the power lies.
Dream of becoming a doctor
I was in Kabul twelve years ago. Last time I met some women there who taught girls in hiding when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. Now they worked as teachers in an orphanage, in a society where girls were allowed to go back to school, with complete transparency.
One of the girls I met was 12-year-old Samarkul. It was she who welcomed us in with an outstretched hand and a broad smile. Samarkul dreamed of becoming a doctor. She worked hard in school and learned to speak English whenever she got the chance.
Samargul could be one of those thrown off the course – before finishing the race. Maybe one of the young women who can fulfill her dream at a Norwegian university.
If Norway and other countries make sure that some of the women of Afghanistan come to us and complete their education, it will not solve their problems. Or young women who dream of studying can do so here.
A pragmatic approach
But it is a contribution. For the individual woman, and ultimately perhaps for Afghan society. If the Taliban is overthrown at some point, educated people are needed outside the country and within the country’s own borders.
Today, only one in five Afghans have access to the Internet. It offers opportunities in Afghanistan that were not there last time the Taliban were in power. Digital teaching can reach some girls who are now denied schooling. Here too, Norway and other countries can contribute. Especially in big cities, and families have internet and PC access.
No one can help everyone. But everyone can help someone. It is easy to feel powerless and hopeless in the face of the fate of Afghan women. But it helps a lot with practical approach. Let’s see what we can definitely do to improve the situation a bit. For some.
Norwegian universities and colleges have good experience in teaching students from other countries. English is taught in many places. Young Afghan women who have completed high school or studied in their home country often have a good command of English.
A brutal silence worth little
A question is whether women can return after completing their education and contribute to the development of Afghanistan. But if everything is the same, or even worse than today, women will not be able to do it there. Then they deserve a better life outside Afghanistan.
Afghan women can be accepted as students within the quota framework for Norwegian refugees. Storting accepted a quota of 2,000 refugees this year, distributed among different groups. This is Politicians must prioritize Who will fill this quota?
Therefore, our authorities may decide that a certain area should be reserved in these places for Afghan girls whose education has been hindered by the Taliban.
Wolasmal talks about the women she knows in Afghanistan. They no longer have anything to dream about.
In the bigger picture, Afghanistan is hopeless now. Without freedom, a brutal peace is worthless. We have to do what little we can. And root for the likes of Ayesha Wolesmal. One who confronts brutality head on. without giving up.
Listen to a conversation with Ayesha Wolesmal (for VG+ and PodMe subscribers)
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