Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation has changed the landscape of girls’ education in rural Afghanistan. With foresight, cultural sensitivity, and persistence, our model transforms the lives of Afghan girls and young women by addressing barriers to education.
As a trailblazer and exemplar, Razia Jan has dynamically influenced a conservative community, overcoming national insecurity and entrenched patriarchy to build acceptance and demand for girls’ education. Year over year, our programs consistently yield increased enrollment numbers and excellent retention rates and test scores. As a model of creative, innovative problem-solving, the success of our schools reverberates throughout the area we serve and the broader educational community of Afghanistan.
OUR ISSUE AREAS
Public schools in Afghanistan are typically over-enrolled, short-staffed, and under-equipped. Only half are housed in buildings; 30% lack potable water; and 60% do not have toilets, which is a major barrier to education for girls. Roughly 3.7 million Afghan children remain out of school, and 60% of those children are girls. The literacy rate for Afghan girls is just 37% — partly due to the fact that by age 18, 35% of Afghan girls are married and 20% are already mothers.
Afghans suffer some of the worst health indicators in the world. The country’s infant mortality rate is the highest in the world and its maternal mortality rate is the second highest. Decades of war devastated the country’s health care infrastructure and drastically reduced its supply of medical providers. Due to gender-based, social, political, economic, and cultural obstacles, women and girls suffer disproportionately greater negative health outcomes than do males.
Girls’ education has a transformative impact on students, their families, and their communities—while reducing malnutrition, child mortality, poverty, and climate change.
The number of children saved from severe malnutrition, if all women were able to complete high school.
The percent decrease in child mortality, if all women were given the opportunity to complete high school.
The percent of income that working women reinvest in their families, compared to 30–40% invested by men.
The ranking given to educating girls for the most effective solutions to combat global warming, ranked higher than solar energy.
Why Afghan Girls?
When Afghan native Razia Jan returned to her home country in the wake of 9/11 — after more than 30 years in the United States — she saw the devastating effects that decades of war and Taliban rule had had on women and girls. Razia was stunned by the vast disparities between girls and boys. This inequality had not existed during her own childhood; she had enjoyed the right to do everything her brothers did, and more. Razia resolved to address girls’ education in Afghanistan by founding Razia’s Ray of Hope, a journey that would take her around the world as an award-winning humanitarian and CNN Top 10 Hero as she nurtured the seeds of education in an impoverished, conservative district where educating girls is now a point of pride.