Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has delivered a message from Sotooda Forotan, an Afghan school girl, to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, seeking the help of the Biden administration for girls in the strife-torn country gain access to education.
Foratan, who is 15 years old, was recently listed as one of the ”25 most influential women of 2021” by the UK’s Financial Times.
The teenager was named on the list after she took a stand against the Taliban government’s decision to ban girls from schools in classes 7-12 after the hardline Islamists seized power in Kabul in mid-August.
Yousafzai met Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other US officials in the State Department on Monday and read Foratan’s letter and urged Blinken to pass it on to President Joe Biden, Afghanistan’s Tolo news agency reported.
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In the letter, Foratan called on Blinken and Biden to help Afghan girls gain access to education.
“The longer schools and universities remain closed to girls, the more hope for our future fades. Girls’ education is a powerful tool for bringing peace and security. If girls don’t learn, Afghanistan will suffer too. As a girl and as a human being, I need you to know that I have rights. Women and girls have rights. Afghans have the right to live in peace, go to school, and play,” Foratan’s letter read, as shared by Yousafzai.
Yousafzai also called on Blinken to support Afghan girls’ education at this critical time. She said right now Afghanistan is the only country in which girls are banned from education.
”You mentioned that we’re here to talk about equality in girls’ education, but we know that Afghanistan right now is the only country where girls do not have access to secondary education,” Yousafzai, who was critically injured by a Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan gunman in 2012, said.
”They are prohibited from learning, and I have been working together with Afghan girls and women’s activists and there’s this one message from them — that they should be given the right to work, they should be able to go to school,” she said.
Afghanistan has been under Taliban rule since August 15 when the Afghan militant group ousted the elected government of President Ashraf Ghani and forced him to flee the country and take refuge in the UAE.
The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan after the United States and the NATO powers decided to pull out their respective forces from the war-torn nation after 20 years.
The Taliban have effectively banned girls from secondary education in Afghanistan, by ordering high schools to reopen only for boys.