Afghanistan's Girl Gap

Women can be elected to parliament, but six years after the fall of the Taliban less than 30% of girls are enrolled in schools. Their absence could be Afghanistan's next crisis

Tomas Munita for TIME

Seventh-grade English teacher Najia Zamani is a rarity: only 28% of Afghan teachers are women

Nothing gives principal Suraya Sarwary more pleasure than the sound of her second-grade girls reciting a new lesson out loud. Six years ago, that sound could have gotten her executed. The Taliban had outlawed education for girls, but a few brave teachers taught them in secret. Sarwary, now the principal of Karokh District Girls High School in Afghanistan's Herat province, recalls gathering students furtively in her home and imparting lessons in whispers for fear that her neighbors might report her to the Taliban.

These days the biggest risk posed by the girls' enthusiastic recitation is that it may drown out the...

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