The Educational Goal of Gordon Brown & Yasmine Sherif’s World Championship – Project Syndicate | Team Cansler

After the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan 15 months ago, their leaders broke their promise to keep girls in secondary education. To persuade the regime to reverse course, the international community must use the influence of other predominantly Muslim countries, including tournament host Qatar.

EDINBURGH – All those traveling to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup and with concerns about human rights should come together to protest a particularly urgent and abhorrent recent abuse: the Taliban regime’s ban on banning Afghan girls from attending school. Anger at the ban is being felt strongly in Qatar, other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states and other Middle Eastern and predominantly Muslim countries that wield influence with the Taliban. The entire global development community can therefore unite around the common goal of calling on the Taliban to live up to their earlier promise to respect girls’ right to education.

Unity on this issue is possible because the Muslim world outside of Afghanistan supports the mainstream Islamic doctrine that welcomes and encourages girls’ education. “Iqra‘, meaning ‘to read’, is the first word of the Qur’an. “The pursuit of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim,” says Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 74, one of the six canonical teachings in Sunni Islam. This deep commitment to learning – by both men and women – explains why the United Arab Emirates has championed girls’ education so openly at the United Nations, and why Qatar’s leaders have been internationally recognized for championing education as a liaison between the United Nations States deploy West and the Taliban.

In addition, each country has committed to the fourth UN Sustainable Development Goal: the everyone Ensure children have access to “inclusive and equitable quality education” by the end of this decade. Due to its strong commitment to providing education for all girls, female enrollment in universities in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has increased from 2% in 1970 to 39% in 2018. And in Saudi Arabia, half of university-age women attend university — a higher female enrollment rate than Mexico, China, Brazil and India.

The case for lifting the school ban becomes even stronger when one considers that Afghanistan itself has experienced long periods when girls’ education flourished. Before the Taliban takeover in 1996, 60% of Kabul University’s teaching staff (and half of its students) were women, and Afghan women made up 70% of the country’s school teachers, 50% of civilian government employees (and 70% of the 130,000 civil servants in Afghanistan). Kabul) , and 40% of doctors. In this century alone – up until a year ago – the number of Afghan girls enrolled in school has increased from just 100,000 in 2000 to over 3.5 million, and female literacy has doubled.

The United Nations Education Cannot Wait Fund (of which I am Chair) has invested more than $58 million in education in Afghanistan since 2017, first through emergency relief for displaced students and more recently (until last year) through a multi-year resilience program , launched in 2019 Thanks to the dedicated work of our partners – led by UNICEF and various non-governmental organizations – this funding eventually reached 51% of Afghanistan’s young female students. Plans are now underway to launch a new multi-year program to increase girls’ and boys’ access to community-based education, even in the most remote and difficult areas.

Therefore, the international community, together with Taliban spiritual leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, must now plead to change his rulings, which go beyond banning girls from going to school and allowing them access to public places such as parks, gyms, etc country. The regime has also tightened sanctions against women traveling without a male relative. And thousands of government employees have been ordered to stay at home and have lost their jobs as a result.

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Protests against this inexcusable denial of girls’ rights continue to come from across the UN system, and the foreign ministers of the G7 countries and Norway, together with the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, issued a statement declaring they “to the Taliban to urgently reverse that decision, which will go far beyond the harm it will do to Afghan girls.” But it is the GCC, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and major Muslim countries like Pakistan and Indonesia that have the most influence the Taliban can exercise.

We must urge Muslim scholars to use their religious knowledge to show that the edicts banning girls from secondary school are contrary to the teachings of Islam. And we must call on the OIC and GCC to use every diplomatic tool at their disposal to put an end to this burning injustice. If there is one goal that all World Cup participants can cheer for together, this is it. We have the opportunity to change the lives of millions of young people for the better.

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