Afghanistan makes way for first women's university
It's about time.
The first-ever women's university will be built in the Afghan capital city of Kabul sometime in the future.
"Sometime in the future" is vague. It could mean 1 year or it could mean 10 years. When it comes to education, every day matters.
This lack of specificity no doubt frustrates a lot of women's rights advocates, especially because the president, Ashraf Ghani, announced he would back a college for women during his election campaign in 2014.
But advocates in Afghanistan have learned how to be patient.
This is a country with a female literacy rate of around 20%, where millions of girls are prevented from even attending primary school, where 50% of existing schools lack a building and resources and where the Taliban relentlessly attacks girls who try to get an education.
In Afghanistan, any progress is promising. Women can currently attend the American University of Afghanistan and a handful of other universities, but total enrollment is still low.
When this progress is led by the first lady, Rula Ghani, it's even more promising.
Rula has been a prominent advocate of women's education for years and this university has become a personal passion.
She said, "Building a university for girls is one of the promises of Mr Ghani that he vowed during presidential campaigns and now we are on the eve of its implementation."
The school will be called Mawlana Afghan-Turk University and will be built with the help of Turkey, a country with a long history of supporting women's education.
If and when this university starts enrolling women, the country will still have a long way to go. From day 1, the school will have to be ever-vigilant against a terrorist attack. Plus, the school will have little immediate impact on impoverished girls who never get a chance to go to school in the first place.
Regardless, the University will be a major milestone. It will send a resounding message to extremists that women will not be cowed into silence and ignorance. Women everywhere have a right to an education. And women everywhere will someday gain this education.
You can go to TAKE ACTION NOW to call for leaders everywhere to support women's education.