Conflicts & War

Depriving girls of education cost Afghan economy $500m since Taliban takeover

Kabul, Aug 15 (EFE).- Keeping girls out of secondary school has cost Afghanistan 2.5 percent of its annual GDP in the last 12 months, an analysis by UNICEF shows.

United Nations Children’s Fund predicts that the three million girls would boost Afghanistan’s economy by at least $5.4 billion if they finished their secondary education and entered the workforce.

The non-financial effects of denying females access to school, such as impending shortages of female teachers, physicians, and nurses, are not taken into consideration in UNICEF’s estimates.

The projections also leave out the subsequent effects on girls’ primary school declining attendance and rising health expenditures associated with teen pregnancies.

“Not only does it violate girls’ fundamental right to education, it exposes them to heightened anxiety, and greater risk of exploitation and abuse, including child trafficking, early and forced marriage,” Ayoya said

Even before the Taliban seized power on Aug.15 last year, Afghanistan struggled with over 4.2 million children out of school and 60 percent of whom were girls

The analysis shows that without ensuring girls’ rights to attend and finish secondary education, Afghanistan would not be able to restore the gross domestic product (GDP) lost during the transition and attain its maximum productivity.

“UNICEF wants to see every girl and boy across Afghanistan in school and learning,” said Ayoya.

“We will not stop advocating until that goal is achieved. Not only is education a right for every child, it is the foundation for future growth in Afghanistan.”

In addition to girls not being able to return to secondary schools, UNICEF is also struggling to reach adolescent girls with the vital services they need, such as anemia prevention support and menstrual health and hygiene.

Child malnutrition is also increasing.

In June 2021, 30,000 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition in Afghanistan.

In June 2022, 57,000 children were admitted – a 90 percent increase.

“Afghanistan remains one of the most complex and multidimensional worldwide children’s crises,” said Ayoya.

“This is a pivotal juncture for a generation of children in Afghanistan.” EFE


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