In a bid to boost education for women, by women in Afghanistan - where perhaps 79 per cent of the female population is illiterate - the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is joining forces with Afghanistan's education and gender affairs ministries to produce the country's first literacy textbook for women.
On Saturday - International Women's Day - a new partnership between the Afghan Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Women's Affairs and UNICEF will be launched to produce the new textbook. The primer has been designed by focus groups of Afghan women – some illiterate – as a first step towards improving the reading, writing and comprehension skills of women across the country.
A series of workshops brought the women together with writers and graphic artists, to ensure that the content of the textbook is relevant and interesting to women in Afghanistan. As a result, chapters will concentrate on issues such as the importance of the family, raising healthy children, food, the environment, housekeeping, respect and understanding, marriage, and employment. Overall, the book will focus on the subject of life skills within an Islamic context.
The joint project promotes literacy as a crucial element in reducing discrimination and exploitation of women, and along with improving literacy, the book’s emphasis on tolerance, understanding and improving relationships is designed to help build status and self-esteem amongst female students. To complement the textbook, which is still under revision and is due for completion in May, a set of teaching materials is also being produced for those who will deliver literacy courses.