"If Afghan girls deserve the right to education — do not let me and my Afghan sisters become victims of global politics. Do not let our country become a cemetery of our dreams and goals."
New York, New York
My name is Somaya Faruqi, and I am a student from Afghanistan.
A year ago, I was sitting in a classroom optimistic about the future. I was a senior, excited to finish my final year of secondary school.
As the captain of the first all-girls robotics team, known as the Afghan Dreamers, I spent my days working on robots, learning and dreaming. When I wasn’t in school, I travelled around the world with my teammates to compete in international robotics competitions.
In a country where girls make up over 60% of out-of-school children, my teammates and I had beaten the odds. We were inspiring Afghan girls and boys, and making our country proud. We were going to be mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and software engineers, and help build our country.
But that all changed on September 18, 2021 when the Taliban closed girls’ schools. While our brothers and cousins sat in classrooms, me and millions of Afghan girls were forced to put our dreams on hold.
Today, girls’ secondary schools remain closed. Without education, my cousins, friends and other girls fear an uncertain future and feel abandoned.
The Taliban is slowly erasing our existence in society. Thousands of girls may never return to school. Many have already been married off.
The promises of reopening have come and gone. Today, Afghanistan is the only country in the world that forbids girls from going to school.
This week, you are here to propose solutions to transform education for all. But you must not forget those left behind, who are not lucky enough to be in school at all.
Show your solidarity with me and millions of Afghan girls. You must work together to demand the reopening of girls’ schools and the protection of our rights.
Fund our education system in Afghanistan. Critical resources are needed to make sure that children can still learn, even as the crisis continues.
And finally, to all the countries who have welcomed Afghans to resettle in your countries — give all children access to free, safe and quality education, regardless of status.
If Afghan girls deserve the right to education — do not let me and my Afghan sisters become victims of global politics. Do not let our country become a cemetery of our dreams and goals.