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Spring Gillard
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A Woman in School

0524MotherDaughter2

Photo credit: CW4WAfghan

I am a woman and I go to school. Although I feel privileged to be going to school at my age, there is nothing extraordinary about that statement. Not in Canada. Not in the United States, nor in many other countries. But, if you are a woman or a girl in Afghanistan, the statement becomes very significant.

I went to a Breaking Bread 4 Women brunch today at a friend’s house. It was a fundraiser for Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan). My friend Barb’s daughter, Lauryn Oates is the Projects Director. The group focuses on education, primarily increasing access for Afghan women and girls. CW4WAfghan has set up village libraries, trained 4000 teachers in the public school system, and run literacy classes for women in underserved areas of Kabul. Lauryn, a young woman herself, has been to Afghanistan 37 times. Barb recently accompanied Lauryn on a trip to Afghanistan to visit some of the projects and connect with partner organizations and other NGOs. She has long been a supporter of her daughter’s work, but seeing with her own eyes deepened her commitment.

Brunches like the one I attended today raise money to pay teachers salaries ­– $1400 will pay a teacher for one year (up from $750 in 2002). The Lantern Fund provides teacher training for Afghan teachers, most of whom have had no formal schooling. Today as I watched Lauren’s eloquent and moving presentation, listened to Afghani women, chatted with Columbian women and Canadian-born women, ate delicious food with them all, I realized what an extreme privilege I have to be a woman here and to go to school, at any age, and to never question my right to do so.

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