Like many around the world, I am greatly distressed to see the unfolding events in Afghanistan, including the renewed threat to women’s rights.
As Chair of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), I am concerned that all children, particularly girls, can exercise their right to a quality education.
Since Afghanistan joined the partnership in 2011, GPE has invested over US$200 million in helping to improve education services in Afghanistan.
GPE and other aid partners have helped Afghanistan’s government to make significant improvements in the provision of schools, training of teachers and school enrollments.
In recent years, Afghanistan has recorded significantly increased school enrollments figures: total student enrollment increased from approximately 1.1 million students in 2001 to more than 9.6 million students in 2018. Girls have made up an increasing proportion of the new students.
GPE will be doing everything it can to protect this progress and to build on it as millions of children in Afghanistan remain out of school and girls are disproportionately under-represented in classrooms.
More broadly, given all that has been sacrificed, including by Australians during the war in Afghanistan, the global community must continue to press for peace and progress for the Afghan people with a key focus on the rights of women and girls.
I also urge governments to continue to support the evacuation of at-risk civilians in Afghanistan, including those who assisted the Australian Defence Force and Afghan women who may be threatened because of their support for gender equality, or because of their leadership roles in the former government and in the media.