Sitting in my classroom at Northeastern University I’m hardly thinking about my safety. I’m not thinking about a bomb going off, and I’ve never missed a class because of a possible attack. There have, of course, been incidents in the U.S. of tragic shootings, but these are few and far between compared to other countries. I doubt that young women around the world feel quite as safe as I do at school. They probably do think about their security every morning, and yet they are still determined to learn.
A new report released by UNESCO highlights the issue of security around the world—32 countries experienced attacks on educational institutions in the last three years. Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India experienced some of the most intense increase of attacks. Whether it is the Taliban in Pakistan or the Maoists in India, groups around the world are extremely opposed to quality education, specifically for women. In Afghanistan alone, the number of attacks on schools almost tripled in one year, going from 242 to 670.
These attacks have various motives, ranging from political to social to religious. Sometimes the attacks have come from a government, such as the UN school in Gaza, which faced fire from Israel during the 2008 Gaza war. Or from terrorist organizations, which either are directly targeting the civilians, or are trying to weaken the government in power by weakening infrastructure. Either way, innocent children are the victims.
This ought to be a major concern. At Barakat we reduce parents’ fears by coming to students instead of them coming to us. We also provide transportation to and from school for teachers, who have been major targets for attacks as well. Either way, these children, and particularly women, face a major risk everyday when they decide to attend school. One day I hope to do something truly courageous; these women do it everyday.