Afghan Women Overcome Challenges and Escape for Education Abroad

Afghan women have been facing the harsh reality of life under Taliban rule, with restrictions on their rights and freedoms. However, despite the dangers and uncertainties, many women have taken the opportunity to pursue an education abroad. This article explores the experiences of two Afghan women, Nina and Safia, who have escaped to Bangladesh to continue their studies, and the impact it has had on their lives.

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 brought significant changes to the lives of women in the country. They lost the right to education beyond the age of 12, freedom of dress, and the ability to travel alone for more than 72km. In the face of these oppressive conditions, Afghan women like Nina and Safia were offered a lifeline through the Asian University for Women (AUW) and its education programs. The AUW received distress calls from their female students as the Taliban came to power, prompting them to evacuate 148 women from Kabul. Despite the dangers, these women managed to board a flight with the US military and landed in Saudi Arabia before being sent to various universities in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Since then, AUW has continued its efforts to provide scholarships and facilitate the evacuation of more Afghan women. So far, they have successfully sent 450 students to AUW’s university in Bangladesh and partner colleges such as Brown University, Oxford, and Manchester. Their goal is to help a total of 1,000 women escape Afghanistan and continue their education in safer environments.

The journeys of Nina and Safia reflect the challenges and risks Afghan women face in pursuit of education abroad. Nina’s departure from Afghanistan was filled with anxiety and heartache, as she bid farewell to her family, uncertain if she would ever see them again. The restrictions imposed by the Taliban made her journey even more dangerous. She lied to airport officials, claiming her mother was sick in Pakistan, to ensure she could travel alone. Safia, on the other hand, had a close encounter with the Taliban when they tried to kidnap her for not abiding by their dress code. She managed to escape and eventually received a scholarship to study at AUW.

While these women have found refuge in Bangladesh and have the opportunity to continue their studies, they still face numerous challenges and uncertainties. They have had to leave their families behind, unsure of when or if they will be able to reunite with them. Safia had to leave her husband in Iran during her escape, adding to the emotional turmoil she experiences. The cultural and language differences in their new environment have also posed challenges for these Afghan women.

However, despite these challenges, Nina and Safia are determined to make the most of their educational opportunities. Nina has started a boxing club to empower other women and teach them self-defense. She believes that strength and confidence are crucial for women in an oppressive society. Safia, who aspired to be a voice for women’s rights, hopes to use her education to advocate for ordinary people in Afghanistan.

The stories of Nina and Safia shed light on the resilience and determination of Afghan women in the face of adversity. They have chosen to pursue education and escape from a repressive regime, despite the risks involved. Their experiences highlight the importance of providing safe havens and educational opportunities for women in countries like Afghanistan. By supporting organizations like AUW, we can help empower more women to break free from the chains of oppression and build a better future for themselves and their communities.