The conference was organised by the Mutahida Shariat Mahaz, a network of religious leaders and scholars from all Islamic sects from across the country on Saturday.
Religious leaders from across Afghanistan, including Afghan clerics on Saturday called upon the Afghan Taliban government to open girls’ secondary schools in the war-torn country.
The call was made in a Religious Leaders’ Conference organized in Peshawar by the Mutahida Shariat Mahaz, a network of religious leader from all Muslim sects.
Speakers emphasized on the role of motivated and committed religious and community leaders as key to promote girls’ education and transformative change. These leaders could work individually and collectively to convert their commitments into meaningful actions, they concurred. For girls’ education, this social transformation needs to tackle entrenched stereotypical norms and structures that create resistance to change, the leaders said.
The religious leaders called upon the Taliban leadership to reconsider the decision of keeping the girls secondary schools closed and to reopen all girls’ secondary schools so that all children without any discrimination can continue their education.
While addressing the conference, Maulana Tayyab Qureshi Chief Khateeb of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said: “for sustainable change towards girls’ education across the Muslim countries, religious leaders must play their due role at the community level.”
“We must work in collaboration with other civil society actors in implementing innovative approaches and cultural transformation on girls’ and women’s education and empowerment, in particular to increase the completion rates of girls at all levels of the education across Muslim countries.” He added.
The speakers also demanded Taliban government to allocate all required resources and facilities to support and promote girls’ access to secondary education and to ensure that girls can access education without any fear and intimidation and can play their role in social, political and economic development of the country.
While expressing concern over the closure of secondary schools in Afghanistan, Allama Syed Hashim Musavi, religious leader from the minority Hazara community said that “Closure of secondary schools is a deprivation of very basic right to education of girls and women in Afghanistan.”
He added, “We must facilitate women and girls to avail opportunities for economic growth, for which we call upon the Muslim Governments to invest in improving girls’ education so they have the knowledge, education, skills, and self-confidence to participate in economic spheres.”
The conference concluded with the declaration endorsed by religious leaders on girls’ secondary education and women empowerment, announcing girls access to all levels of education a fundamental right and calling Muslim Government across the world to redouble efforts and work together to ensure that all children, especially girls, have access to 12 years of safe and quality education.
Image: Paula Bronstein / Human Rights Watch