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Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

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CW4WAfghan PROGRAM UPDATE: Literacy classes underway in Bagrami.

Literacy, and particularly female literacy rates, is among the best measures of sustainable development. This is one reason why education deserves to be put on a pedestal within aid and development assistance.

When citizens are educated, they are better equipped to tackle problems like poverty, disease and instability, reducing the burden on foreign donor governments. Yet in Afghanistan, literacy rates have remained stubbornly low, despite numerous other human development indicators, such as maternal mortality and access to primary healthcare, skyrocketing over the past decade. Data from 2011 (UNICEF) found that only one in five young women (aged 15 to 24) was literate.

There are several reasons for this, and among those we at Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan) have identified, is a lack of reading material. Many people who have limited schooling, such as a few years of primary school, lose their literacy because of limited opportunities to apply it. There is a very weak local publishing industry, with most books being imported and of limited relevance to new readers in Afghanistan.

Media coverage of Afghanistan over the past decade is notoriously prone to selective coverage of the negative -- the latest bomb blast or kidnapping -- while doing a dismal job of telling the story of the transformative progress that has occurred, and what exactly is at stake should security deteriorate this year upon the withdrawal of foreign troops."

A life-changing first trip to Afghanistan for Madeliene Tarasick, CW4WAfghan's President, along with several CW4WAfghan team members who travelled in May 2013 to Afghanistan to “see for themselves what their decade of fundraising had accomplished…”  This was uniquely documented by reporter, Mellissa Fung. Mellissa completes a story she began five years ago in Afghanistan that was interrupted by her kidnapping.

Watch the 15 minute documentary on CBC, The National:

Afghan women are concerned that, as the withdrawal of US troops nears, their gains of the last 12 years will be sacrificed in a peace deal with the Taliban, or that they will simply be forgotten. The international community, particularly the US and Europe, must not let this happen.

By Samina Ahmed, Op-ed contributor / November 12, 2013
Christian Science Monitor
Islamabad and Kabul

Melissa Roddy, November 13, 2013
The Huffington Post

I went to Afghanistan. I went there as a tourist, a single woman, unaccompanied, unguided and unsponsored by any sort of group, government, corporation or organization. I had complete control over what I experienced. It took me six years to save up enough money for the trip.

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