- Mursal Fasihi, 17, was a committed student before the Taliban took over Afghanistan.
- Now she cannot return to school because of laws imposed by the nation’s de facto government.
- “I miss my friends, instructors, and school,” she laments.
- Many families have turned to marry off their young girls out of desperation.
- Ms. Fasihi finds fulfillment and purpose in serving as a peer educator for others, even though her ambition for formal education is currently on indefinite pause.
Mursal Fasihi, 17, still cannot believe she cannot return to school a year after the Taliban took over. Ms. Fasihi was once a committed student, but because of laws imposed by the nation’s de facto government, she cannot return to the classroom, as are all girls of secondary school age like all other Afghans who are expelled from school.
She refers to several orders that have effectively prevented women and girls from engaging in public life, saying, “It is not right that they are deciding for us, telling us to travel with mahram [a male companion], that we should hide our faces, and cease going to school.”
When Ms. Fasihi took her final exam for the 11th grade in July 2021, it was the last time she set foot inside a building that housed a school. The Taliban took over Afghanistan a month later; on August 15, Kabul fell.
Tale of Afghans who are expelled from school
I miss my school, my teachers, and my friends
A few of her acquaintances have relocated outside Afghanistan to continue their schooling. “I genuinely miss my friends, instructors, and school,” the student said. I used to be able to go to my school, but I can’t any longer,” she laments.
Her hopes of becoming a doctor are currently in doubt. She will not lose hope, though. Ms. Fasihi joined the Youth Peer Educators Network (Y-PEER), a regional initiative run by and for youth and supported by the UN Office for reproductive health, to pass the time and feel productive.
The goal of Y-PEER is to help young people develop the life skills they need to overcome obstacles. As one of the 25 trainers for Y-PEER in Afghanistan, Ms. Fasihi participated in a training session in July of last year.
She became more aware of the daily problems of young Afghans due to the training. She had no idea how many girls, particularly young girls living in poverty or distant locations, suffer from adverse events like early marriage and adolescent pregnancy as educated young women in the metropolis of Kabul.
An unheard-of rise in poverty
Discussions about these issues have become more prominent due to the unprecedently high poverty level due to the economic catastrophe that followed the Taliban’s restoration to power in Afghanistan. Many families have turned to marrying off their young girls out of desperation, transferring responsibility for their upbringing and protection.
“It is heartbreaking because how can a child create and raise another child in this world?” As Ms. Fasihi notes, “We are just kids at our age. We ought to be researching and pursuing lofty goals. We are not yet ready to get married.
Awaiting the passage of the ominous cloud
Ms. Fasihi finds fulfillment and purpose in serving as a peer educator for others, even though her ambition for formal education is currently on indefinite pause.
She can convey her desire for a better future while educating young people about the dangers of early marriage and teen pregnancy.
She assured UNFPA, “When the gloomy cloud moves on, we will see a lovely daybreak.”
“I’m hoping young girls will persevere. Although it is acceptable to feel terrified and cry, giving up is not an option. I’m hoping they’ll find every opportunity to keep learning. Hopefully, someone will come to our aid, or the schools will reopen, she said. Our dazzling morning will arrive.
Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network