The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is supporting the relocation of young Afghan girls to Rwanda so that they can continue their studies, following the de facto authorities’ decision to ban women and girls from access to secondary and higher education in Afghanistan.
The girls are among the first foreign students admitted to the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA), an Afghan girls’ boarding school originally based in Kabul, before it was forced to move to Rwanda in 2021 following the ‘prohibition.
The first and only school of its kind, SOLA provides a safe space for young Afghan girls to receive a secondary-level education, with the ambition to create a generation of female leaders.
For António Vitorino, Director General of IOM, “The dedication and strength of Afghan women and girls in the face of such adversity inspires and humbles us every day “.
“This initiative fills me with hope and determination to continue our advocacy alongside the country’s women and girls, for an Afghanistan that recognizes, promotes and uses to its advantage the contributions of its women, and invests in its daughters.“, he adds.
The girls’ arrival in Rwanda follows an agreement between IOM and SOLA to help organize the safe travel and resettlement of its students, who are already living outside Afghanistan, their country of residence. current to the SOLA campus in Rwanda.
The students who have arrived so far have been helped and escorted to the boarding school by IOM staff.
According to the testimony of an IOM staff member who was escorting the students, “They couldn’t wait to get to their school. During the flight, the youngest daughter received a pilot’s cap and sunglasses. She was so excited and happy; she wore her cap the whole trip and told me she wanted to be a pilot when she grew up“.
“March 2023 marks one year since the Taliban closed the doors of girls’ schools in Afghanistan, denying them the right to study beyond sixth grade“said Shabana Basij-Rasikh, founder of SOLA.
She said to herself “extremely grateful to IOM for ensuring their safe journey to our school where they will grow up to be part of a generation of leaders who will one day help rebuild Afghanistan”.
At SOLA, the new students will join their classmates, who were welcomed by the Rwandan government in August 2021. IOM will continue to support the relocation of other Afghan students to this school.