First Person: The ‘bravery’ of Afghanistan’s women and girls

First Person: The ‘bravery’ of Afghanistan's girls and women


Following an announcement by the Taliban that boys might return to secondary college — whereas making no reference to a return date for ladies in secondary college — nervousness and uncertainty stalk the a million women affected by this omission. 

UNICEF’s Chief of Communications in Afghanistan, Sam Mort, spoke to the Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications on the UN, Melissa Fleming, as a part of the podcast sequence, Awake at Night.  

“UNICEF stayed in Afghanistan as a result of that’s what we do. We’re right here earlier than, throughout and after an emergency and, in the meanwhile, round half the nation is in determined want of humanitarian help, together with 10 million youngsters.

If UNICEF is not right here to guard them, to offer them drugs, vaccinate them, to offer them the nourishment that they so desperately want, to assist them recuperate from the atrocities that they’ve seen, then who’s going to do this? It was a straightforward choice to remain for the group, and for me personally.

The pace and the size of the Taliban takeover has had a huge effect on us and our operations. Most of our nationwide workers are working from house till the Taliban may give us assurances about their safety, significantly that our feminine nationwide workers can journey safely and do their work with out menace.

As a end result, we’re not working at capability; we’re not reaching all the youngsters we should be serving to. But, in latest weeks, roads and airports have opened up so, slowly, slowly, we’re starting to renew our work and we’re hopeful that we’ll have all workers again within the places of work quickly. With a posh humanitarian disaster looming and winter across the nook, time is of the essence. 

One of the worst locations on earth to be a baby

© UNICEF/Omid Fazel

UNICEF’s Sam Mort meets a baby affected person at a hospital in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has lengthy been one of many worst locations on earth to be a baby and in latest months, it is develop into a a lot darker place so it is essential that the eyes and ears of the world stay centered on essentially the most susceptible and the way finest to assist them.

UNICEF works with loads of younger folks and, since I arrived in Afghanistan a yr in the past, I’ve been struck by their vitality, optimism and willpower to forge ahead, significantly of their need for training. It’s not simple, particularly for younger ladies who of their need to study and search new alternatives confront each day threats, hardships and challenges.

Their confidence, the pluckiness, is exceptional. I do not suppose I used to be anticipating that. I see a bravery in Afghanistan’s women and girls that I have never seen anyplace else, as a result of the fears and pressures are actual they usually acknowledge them, they usually transfer ahead anyway.

When I requested one younger lady who we have been working with in the previous couple of weeks, how she was doing she stated, “I’m still breathing but I’m trapped. This is a nightmare”.

She advised me: ‘Sam, I used to be, I used to be simply ending highschool and I used to be about to start out college. Everything I wished to do, all my goals have simply stopped.”

Unfulfilled potential

A UN-supported polio worker in Afghanistan administers a polio vaccine to a young child (file).

UNICEF/Celeste Hibbe

A UN-supported polio employee in Afghanistan administers a polio vaccine to a younger baby (file).

As a foreigner, you need to be very cautious about saying, “Oh, they haven’t just stopped, you know, they’ll start again,” as a result of that is Afghanistan and the Taliban has taken over and everyone is in ‘wait-and-see’ mode. Nobody can predict what is going on to occur. 

With all of the younger those who I’ve been talking to, together with younger males and boys, the best service I can do for them is to hear, to grasp and to speak to them a little bit bit about their psychological well being in addition to what they’ll do every day to maintain themselves busy, however keep pragmatic and centered on their future. 

UNICEF is such a hopeful, ahead trying group. We attempt to work with younger folks to offer them a platform to specific themselves, realise their goals, encourage each other and join. Right now, although, that feels very tough in Afghanistan.
So, what retains me awake at evening?  It is the unfulfilled potential of younger folks, significantly younger ladies, that’s tough.”

Listen to the audio interview here.

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