Afghan university sees first graduates in women's studies

5 Nov 2017

Afghanistan`s first graduates in women`s studies donned caps and gowns on Sunday to collect their unusual qualifications in the patriarchal country. Kabul University is the country`s first higher education institute to offer a degree focused on gender and women`s issues, according to the United Nations Development Programme and university officials. Feminist theories, media, civil society and conflict resolution were among the largely women-focused topics covered in the two-year Master`s course, funded by South Korea and run by the UNDP. Offering such a degree would have been unthinkable during the Taliban`s repressive 1996-2001 Islamist regime when female issues were taboo and women were largely confined to their homes and banned from education.
While protection of women`s rights has improved since a US-led invasion toppled the Taliban, they remain second-class citizens in the male-dominated country. Among the 22 graduates were seven men, including Mujtaba Arefi. "This is the beginning of a change," Arefi told AFP as he waited to receive his certificate. "With these programmes, we can understand the women`s place and status in our society. There is the possibility that we will reach a level of gender equality like the West." Another graduate, Sajia Sediqqi, said she hoped her classmates would use their degrees to improve the situation of women in Afghanistan.  "In a short period of time we cannot bring about any dramatic change, but with our higher education we can help change our society and serve our people, particularly our women." (AFP)