Defying the Taliban: Afghanistan's secret schools for girls

Lucy Lamble
The Guardian
Publication Year:
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Suraya Pakzad talks to Lucy Lamble about her work championing girls’ education – and living on red alert for the next Taliban raid.

When Suraya Pakzad was just 12 years old she witnessed the murder of her headteacher by a member of an extremist group. Later she saw two of her classmates blown up in a missile strike.

She explains how she completed her schooling against the odds – and decided to fight the Taliban’s ban on education for women and girls, which even involved keeping kerosene at the ready in case she needed to destroy evidence.

Now, many years later, with the Taliban gone and the schools reopened, she oversees Voice of Women centres in 29 Afghan provinces offering legal, psychological and social help and refuge to women and girls.


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