Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/6/2009 (4531 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The students from Kandahar City, the birthplace of the Taliban, have completed a two-year business management certificate online from SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary.
Fear that their new educational status could see them harmed by extremists is preventing them from attending Tuesday's graduation ceremony. But they'll be represented by Ehsanullah Ehsan, director of the Afghan School Project in volatile Kandahar.
"This is a significant achievement, given Kandahar's deeply conservative society and anti-women employment society," explained Ehsan, who is receiving an honorary degree for his work in support of women's rights.
"These women are doing these courses and making these big accomplishments and then going back to jobs and contributing to Afghanistan's economy. They become an example for other women who are making way to taking jobs with important organizations."
Ehsan, who also runs the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre, said the women -- all between 20 and 30 years of age -- are already employed.
"These students were able to secure highly paid employment with international organizations like the U.N."
The jobs pay about $800 a month compared with an average office wage in Afghanistan of about $50.
But an educated woman in Afghanistan, especially in the south, is at risk. Schools for female students built across the region by international organizations remain empty.
Animosity should not be a surprise, Ehsan said. "There have been extremist attacks, and other conservatives have really opposed it, but they (women) continue to get education."
When in power, the Taliban opposed the education of girls. Women were afraid to go out of their homes and concern escalated sharply in the aftermath of a vicious attack last November when terrorists sprayed acid in the faces of 15 girls outside their school. Since then, apparent gas poisonings at two northern schools caused dozens of young women to fall ill. The adult literacy rate ranks among the lowest in the world, and only 12.6 per cent of women can read, compared with 32.4 per cent of men.
-- The Canadian Press