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Afghanistan: Top UN officials strongly condemn ‘heinous’ attack on girls school


Two senior UN officials on Wednesday, condemned in the strongest terms, a terrorist attack targeting girls and their families outside a high school in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

The terrorists who exploded a bomb near a girls’ school in the mostly Shiite district of west Kabul in Dasht-e-Barchi on Saturday “must be held accountable” for their “heinous crime”, the UN Special Representatives for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, and on Violence Against Children, Najat Maalla M’jid, said in a joint statement.

According to news reports, scores of people – many of them students between the ages of 11 and 15 – were killed and hundreds of others injured.

Safeguard girls education

The UN officials also called on the Afghan authorities to urgently protect the right to education in armed conflict, especially for girls, which is too often overlooked and neglected.

“In many contexts, access to education is particularly harsh for girls for economic and cultural reasons, but also for security reasons of which the recent attack in Afghanistan is only one latest tragic example”, they said, pushing for the safety of schools “and that girls just like boys are given equal opportunities to pursue their education”.

Afghanistan schools targeted

Afghanistan schools and hospitals remain one of the most attacked, according to the 2019 Secretary-General Report on Children and Armed Conflict. And preliminary data for 2020 show a similar worrying trend, with COVID-19 further exacerbating the vulnerabilities of children, including girls.

“Girls may not be given the choice to go back to school when they reopen, because they had to work or be married off to support their families”, said the two UN officials.

Against the backdrop of the unremitting challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, they stressed that “countries must make the strategic decision of prioritizing education, including in armed conflict in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of reaching the furthest behind”.

Undermining women’s roles

Targeting girls undermines the crucial role that educated girls and women play in the social and economic development of their societies.

The Special Representatives underlined the urgency of ending the violence in Afghanistan and achieving a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

They also extended their condolences to the victim’s families and the Government of Afghanistan and wished a full recovery to those who were injured in the horrific terrorist attack.

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Kenya: Young women urged to seek technology careers as world marks International Girls in ICT Day

Africa/Kanya/Author :Prudence Wanza/Source:

The calls for Girls and women to embrace technology careers have dominated this year’s International Girls in ICT Day with stakeholders decrying a skills gap in the sector, rated one of the fastest growing globally.

According to the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) in the Ministry of ICT, Nadia Ahmed Abdalla, more young men are joining the ICT world than women because of stereotypes in the sector.

“I encourage young girls to join the ICT sector. A lot of times when people talk about ICT they talk about the young males who are there because it’s seen as a sector where only boys can thrive,” she stated

The CAS called upon young women to join the thriving sector especially during this period when the world is relying more on technology to stay connected and keep vital services and businesses ongoing due to the Corona virus pandemic.

“The covid-19 pandemic has shown us that the ICT world is the way forward, it is not the future any more, it is the present,” she said

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), half the world is still offline and most of those who lack access to digital technology are women and girls in developing countries.

Additionally, there exists a 17 percent gender gap in internet use thus denying women and girls opportunities to access education, find better-paid jobs, and start new businesses.

“Making technologies available to all is an essential part of building back stronger communities and economies, and addressing many of the world’s most pressing challenges.” Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations stated

The International Girls in ICT Day is marked annually on the fourth Thursday in April.

This year’s theme is, ‘Connected Girls Creating Brighter Futures’

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Kenya: Alarm as 4000 school girls get pregnant in Machakos since March

Africa/Kenya/21-06-2020/Author and Source:

Over 4000 school girls in Machakos County have been impregnated in last three months. Among these, 200 are under 14 years of age.

This is according to the County Children’s Officer Salome Muthama speaking on Tuesday during the celebrations to mark the Day of the African Child at Machakos Rescue Center in Katoloni, Machakos town.

Ms Muthama described the situation as worrying. She assured that legal action would be taken against those responsible for the beastly action. The Children’s officer blamed the long school holiday occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic for the upsurge and implored parents to take more responsibility over their children.

“As we celebrate this day here today, just within this Covid-19 period alone, some 4000 girls have been impregnated in our county!” Ms Muthama declared as she blamed parents for not taking keen interest in bringing up their children thus exposing them to the trickeries of wayward adults and bad peer influence.

“This is a very big number and I am calling upon parents to involve themselves fully in taking care of their children especially the girl child,” the officer added.

She noted that following the partial lockdown of major towns like Nairobi and Mombasa due to Covid-19 pandemic, most parents had sent their children to the rural areas where they are being taken care of by aged grandparents who are unable to take keen care of the youths.

“These helpless grandmothers are not able to closely watch over the youths, and as a result the young ones are introduced to bad habits or even molested by peers and other unscrupulous people thus leading to such calamities such as these pregnancies,” she observed.

She said it was not enough for the parents to send food and money from the towns for the children they had dumped at their own grandparents’ homes noting that it behooves them to stay with their children and mentor them.

“Parents should stay with their children so that they watch over them closely and provide appropriate guidance instead of dumping them at their grandparents’ homes claiming that they are protecting them from the Corona pandemic,” she noted.

At the same time Muthama urged those charged with the dispensation of justice to children to make deliberate efforts to eradicate delays in the process. She particularly called on the police to fast track cases involving children so that justice is dispensed with promptly and the children allowed to go on with building their lives.

She told those attending the celebrations whose theme was “Access to a child-friendly justice system in Africa” that delays in dispensation of justice to children amounted to denial of their rights.

“Cases involving children should take at most six months to resolve but here in Machakos some take up to two years or more,” she lamented.

Noting that delay of children’s cases amounted to a denial of their rights, she added, “Children attend court either as offenders, victims or witnesses, and every time a case drags, the children are being denied opportunity to either attend school or other matters that affect their future lives,” she noted.

The children’s officer similarly appealed to members of the society who are witnesses in cases involving children not to shy away from attending court, but come out and participate fully so that the cases are solved promptly.

And reacting to the shocking news, Machakos Women Representative Joyce Kasimbi condemned the wave of pregnancy among children and said local grassroots leaders should explain how it happened.

She said parliament would pass a law that will ensure that anybody who impregnates a child will be held responsible.

Similar sentiments were expressed by two DCI officers who warned of dire consequences.

Speaking when they joined children of at  Mwisoo Children’s home in Kyawango, Maau-eli in Mwala, to celebrate the Day, Machakos Sub County DCI boss Rhoda Kanyi and her Mwala counterpart Catherine Kinoti said the law will be brought to bear on those found molesting minors.

“Men who sleep with minors must be warned that the law will definitely catch up with you,” they warned.

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Russia: Girls should study how to be mothers rather than go to school — controversial Russian Priest

Europe/Russia/08-03-2020/Author and Source:

Hot on the heels of calling live-in-girlfriends «free prostitutes,» Russia’s least politically correct clergyman, Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov, is in no mood to stop making controversial comments.

The notorious cleric has once again come under fire — this time for questioning the need to send girls to school.

«It is more important to teach a seven-year-old girl how to look after a child, and not to read and write, which she already knows how to do,» he said, speaking to Christian radio station Radonezh. «What is there to do in this school? Learn jealousy, name-calling, bad words, rudeness to teachers? Why? And so, she will ready to be a mother. She will be able to do everything.»

According to the Archpriest, a young girl would be better served by learning in the home, rather than in school.

Smirnov’s comments received a predictable backlash. Rock star Sergei Shnurov, who recently took his first step into politics, wrote a poem in response to the comments, suggesting that the Archpriest reduced the life of a woman purely to motherhood and marriage. «Let them prepare for childbirth and the grave, women get married, no need to study!» Shnurov wrote on his Instagram page.

The Church was quick to fight back against the criticism. Vladimir Legoyda, the spokesperson of the Moscow Patriarchate, criticized the story on his Telegram channel, attacking the media for «crossing the line» with their «distortion» of the story.

«Friends and colleagues, I understand that many people need ‘hype,’ but let’s all stay professional, without turning this into a farce,» he wrote. Legoyda claimed that the Archpriest did not speak out against sending girls to school, but merely advocated family education.

«Alas, thanks to low level of professionalism, illiteracy, or the deliberate distortion of some [journalists], readers of the above headlines will conclude that the Church declared war on education for women and girls, chained them to radiators and didn’t let them go to school. Another scandal from nothing.»

Smirnov has developed quite a reputation for controversial comments. As well as calling unmarried live-in-girlfriends «free prostitutes,» the cleric has spoken out against a law prohibiting domestic violence, called Russian men «a national catastrophe,» and dubbed abortion «worse than the Holocaust.»

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Kenya: Starehe girls closed over unknown disease

Africa/Kenya/16-10-2019/Author: Margaret Kalekye/Source:

Starehe Girls Centre has been closed indefinitely after an outbreak of what has now been established to be a common flu.

There was panic at the prestigious school after 52 students were quarantined when they started coughing, sneezing and having fever.

“The Starehe Girls Centre Community confirms that there has been an increasing number of cases presenting with an unknown cause of high-pitched cough, sneezing and low-grade fever amongst some of the students, 52 girls have since been isolated for observation within the school”  read a statement issued by the school on Monday.

Following a crisis meeting between education ministry officials and the school management Thursday morning, Forms 1, 2 and 3 students were sent home for four days to recuperate.

“In consultation with MoE/MoH officials and BOM the school management has taken the considered decision to allow the girls to go home. This is to accelerate their individual recuperation from what’s has been established to be a common flu said the schools’ communication manager Victoria Miguda.

She added” to dissipate the anxiety that has been building up amongst the girls. The students will resume studies on Monday 7th October 2019. The decision has also been taken into consideration of the form four candidates preparing for the national examination”.

Affected form four candidates will continue receiving treatment in the school.

Samples had been taken to Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) for analysis.


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Pencils and Bullets: Girls’ Education in Afghanistan

Five years ago, after the Taliban years, two Turkmen girls in Afghanistan were finally able to attend school.

Five years ago Al Jazeera travelled to Afghanistan to see one of the most dramatic social changes in Afghanistan in the previous decade – the vastly improved access to education, especially for girls.

After 2001, when the Taliban were toppled from power by US-backed Afghan forces, three million girls returned to school. Women had previously been banned from work and education under Taliban rule.

But the team found that periodic attacks against female students, their teachers and their school buildings, were continuing. And fears were growing that gains in girls’ education could soon be traded away as Western forces prepared to leave and the Afghan government sought peace talks with the Taliban.

Pencils and Bullets focuses on two young girls from the minority Turkmen community in northern Afghanistan. Hayt Gul wants an education rather than sitting at home carpet-weaving with her mother. Nooriya wants to become a doctor. Both are eager students who seek to shine in their class.

Through these two young girls, the film explores their situation back in 2013, the future prospects for girls’ education in Afghanistan, and the efforts of a minority to educate its children.

Five years on, the director of that film, Melek Demir, returns to Afghanistan for REWIND to find out what has become of Hayt and Nooriya – and education for girls in Afghanistan 2018.

Melek Demir: Can you tell us what grade you’re in and how the school year has been for you?

Nooriya: Ninth grade started very well. My lessons are very good and I am very happy with my teachers. Our teachers are striving to help us.

However, I wish I could study in town rather than the village. But we have some difficulties so I do not have that kind of opportunity.

Melek Demir: How do your parents view your education?

Nooriya: Every family has the same problem: it is not appropriate for girls to go to school. It does not look good.

My father and mother let me study because I am still young. Our neighbours and relatives do not approve. My father never told me not to study. He actually encourages my education.

Melek Demir: How would you feel if your father said you couldn’t study anymore?

Nooriya: I cannot say anything to my father, he is our elder. If he tells me to study more I will, but if he opposes it, then I have to give up. I have to do what he says.

If my father says I’ve grown up and need to quit school and get married, then I have to accept this. To prevent gossip and rumours. I will have to quit and stay home.

But I told my father I want to study and I want to be a doctor. I want to be a surgeon. I am even talking about future professions with my relatives. I am telling them I will be a doctor.

I love studying and being away from school would make me very sad. Giving up my studies will make me sad.

Melek Demir: If you marry and your husband allows you to go to school, how do you think your family and relatives will react?

Nooriya: In that scenario, my father cannot say anything to me. If my husband’s family allow me to study, then my father will support me as well. He has never told me not to study.

I cannot even think about marriage at this age. I think it is wise to just think about studying. It is not for me to marry at my age.

I personally want to finish my school. When someone pursues their education, they are then never afraid to study anywhere. If I can go abroad, I can test my courage to continue my education there.

I believe can do it because I have this courage. I believe I can do it.

Melek Demir: What is your journey to school like?

Nooriya: Until exams start, we go to school in small carts bound to motorcycles. Four of us travel together at any given time. We are afraid on the way to school because it can be a long way to walk.

I once had to walk to school by myself. On my way back home, a man with a motorcycle began circling me. I walked home as quick as I could, all the while he was trailing. If I had not seen a brother of a friend, that strange man could have done anything he wanted.

I’m scared of the guy on motorcycles. I know there are good men and bad men; there are all kinds of people in the world. Only God knows their hearts, but because we do not know their intentions, we get scared.

Melek Demir: Will you send your daughters to school in the future?

Nooriya: Yes, when I grow up and have a child I will certainly let my children to study. Nothing is more important than education. I want my children to be educated and do as much as possible.

Melek Demir: How do you feel about coming to school?

Hayt: I am ashamed of being the only girl sitting among the boys. I have a hard time on the way to school. I do not feel comfortable.

Melek Demir: Why don’t other girls come to school?

Hayt: They don’t come because there is no female teacher. Also, they have to sit with the boys. Their fathers don’t allow them to come to school.

Actually, because the level of education is so bad and even the male teachers can’t teach us anything, the boys hardly come, too.

At one point, two girls were coming to school, but the male teacher didn’t look after us.

Melek Demir: How do your parents view your education?

Hayt: My family tells me to study and realise my dreams. I have a passion for my education. I want to go into the city and study there. Only younger girls go to school here; I am older and soon, I will not be able to come anymore.

I am ashamed to be there because I’m older than them, but we cannot afford travel cost for schools in town.

All girls should study, so the numbers of female students can increase. There is not a single female student that is my age.

Melek Demir: Will you continue attending school next year?

Hayt: I want to; I want to continue my education and become a doctor. I want to help my relatives. Doctors heal and bring happiness. That is why I want to be a doctor. I want everybody to be happy.

I don’t know if I will actually be able to attend school next year, though. God knows everything.

Editor’s note: Nooriya and Hayt’s interview updates with Melek Demir have been edited for clarity and brevity.



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EEUU: Apple partners with Malala to fund girls’ education

EEUU/ January 23, 2018/ CNNTech

Activist Malala Yousafzai’s charity is getting a major investment from Apple.

Apple’s support will allow the Malala Fund to double the number of grants to fund the secondary education for girls in India and Latin America, the company announced Sunday. The initial goal is to help more than 100,000 girls.

 «We believe that education is a great equalizing force, and we share Malala Fund’s commitment to give every girl an opportunity to go to school,» said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a statement.

The money will also be used to help the organization scale its «technology, curriculum and research into policy changes.»

Apple (AAPL) didn’t specify how much it’s donating, but Cook will join the fund’s leadership council.

«Through both their innovations and philanthropy, Apple has helped educate and empower people around the world,» said Yousafzai in a statement. «I am grateful that Apple knows the value of investing in girls and is joining Malala Fund in the fight to ensure all girls can learn and lead without fear.»

The Malala Fund, founded in 2013, aims to help girls in struggling countries access «free, safe and quality education,» according to its website. Yousafzai gained global attention for becoming the youngest Nobel Peace Price winner in history in 2014. She survived a gunshot to the head from the Taliban in 2012 when she spoke out about attaining quality education in Pakistan.

Yousafzai is scheduled to speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday.


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