1,000 days of education lost for Afghan girls

Statement by UNICEF Executive Director, Catherine Russell

Afghanistan Schule
On 11 June 2024, primary school students in Kabul interact with other students and teachers.

“Today marks a sad and sobering milestone: 1,000 days since the announcement banning girls in Afghanistan from attending secondary schools.

“1,000 days out-of-school amounts to 3 billion learning hours lost.

“For 1.5 million girls, this systematic exclusion is not only a blatant violation of their right to education, but also results in dwindling opportunities and deteriorating mental health.

“The rights of children, especially girls, cannot be held hostage to politics. Their lives, futures, hopes and dreams are hanging in the balance.

“The impact of the ban goes beyond the girls themselves. It exacerbates the ongoing humanitarian crisis and has serious ramifications for Afghanistan’s economy and development trajectory.

“Education doesn’t just provide opportunities. It protects girls from early marriage, malnutrition and other health problems, and bolsters their resilience to disasters like the floods, drought, and earthquakes that frequently plague Afghanistan.[1]

“My UNICEF colleagues are working hard to support all children in Afghanistan. Together with partners, we are keeping 2.7 million children in primary education, running community-based education classes for 600,000 children – two-thirds of them girls – training teachers, and doing everything we can to keep the educational infrastructure going.

“As we mark this grim milestone, I urge the de facto authorities to allow all children to resume learning immediately. And I urge the international community to remain engaged and support these girls who need us more than ever. No country can move forward when half its population is left behind.”

In 2023 in Afghanistan, UNICEF reached:

  • Over 20 million people with primary health care services, including 1 million living in hard-to-reach areas through mobile teams.
  • 2.1 million people with safe water, and 1.1 million with sanitation services.
  • 1.4 million children with measles vaccinations.
  • 715,000 severely malnourished children with in-patient treatment.
  • 686,000 children (60 percent girls) with education through 21,355 community-based education classes.
  • 170,000 vulnerable families with social assistance, and 86,000 with cash for winter needs.
  • 70,000 children, including unaccompanied and separated children, with case management services.

Find out more about our emergency relief in Afghanistan here: