Lover of books that I am, I could not resist giving you all some treasured quotes from Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, which I just finished reading and which focuses on the importance of education for women.
"After attending a conference of development experts in Bangladesh, Mortenson decided CAI schools should educate students only up through the fifth grade and focus on increasing the enrollment of girls. 'Once you educate boys, they tend to leave the villages and go search for work in the cities,' Mortenson explains. 'But the girls stay home, become leaders in the community, and pass on what they've learned. If you really want to change a culture, to empower women, improve basic hygiene and health care, and fight high rates of infant mortality, the answer is to educate girls" (p. 209).
"'If the Taliban is gone, why do you still wear the burkha?' Bergman asked. 'I'm a conservative lady, ' Uzra said, 'and it suits me. Also, I feel safer in it. In fact, I insist that all my lady teachers wear the burkha in the bazaar. We don't want to give anyone an excuse to interfere with our girls' studies.' 'But don't you feel, I don't know, oppressed, having to look out through that little slit?' Bergman, an emancipated woman from San Francisco, asked. Uzra smiled broadly for the first time since Mortensen met her, and as she freed herself from her burkha, he was struck by how beautiful she still was at fifty despite the hardships she'd endured. 'We women of Afghanistan see the light through education, ' Uzra replied. 'Not through this or that hole in a piece of cloth.'" (p. 289)
"Jahan took a breath and composed herself. 'When I was a little sort of girl and I would see a gentleman or a lady with good, clean clothes I would run away and hide my face. But after I graduated from the Korphe School, I felt a big change in my life. I felt I was clear and clean and could go before anybody and discuss anything. And now that I am already in Skardu, I feel that anything is possible. I don't want to be just a health worker. I want to be such a woman that I can start a hospital and be an executive, and look over all the health problems of all the women in the Braldu. I want to become a very famous woman of this area...I want to be a...'Superlady,' she said, grinning defiantly, daring anyone, any man, to tell her she couldn't."
***I remain convinced that education is the best way to stand on your own two feet and face the world. I applaud Mortensen and his work. Kudos to you!