Nearly two-dozen women risked punishment from the Taliban by rallying to support education for all this week. Since the Taliban takeover in, schools have been off-limits to most older girls — but their desire to learn survives.
Sixth graders in Kabul are among the oldest girls being educated across Afghanistan after the Taliban banned girls 12 and up from going to school. When asked if they want to go back to class next year, all the girls in a class of sixth graders raised their hands.
For 14-year-old Huda, who hasn't been to school in two months, the changes are hard to comprehend.
"Your future, it's like you don't know what's going to happen," Huda said. "I had goals, but I don't know what's going to happen to them."
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban's chief spokesman, insists girls over the age of 12 will be allowed back in the classroom.
When asked if it would take weeks, months or years to see those girls back in classrooms, Mujahid said, "We are trying to do this, but I can't tell you how long it will take."
"The Taliban really don't like women at all. They really don't like us," said Mehbouba Seraj, an Afghan-American who is one of the country's most prominent women's rights activists.
When asked if she had anything to say to girls who want to go to school, Seraj said, "I want to say to them, my girls, my dears, my daughters. Just take a deep breath. Don't lose hope."
Seraj said she would keep fighting for their educational rights "until the last breath I take."
"I'm going to be fighting for it and I'm going to be their voice," she said.
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