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Supporting women’s education in Afghanistan
Five Women’s University Consortium

Five Women’s University Consortium
April 12, 2002, at Presidential Chamber of Ochanomizu University

From left
Prof. Hisako Shimura, President of Tsuda College
Prof. Masuko Honda, President of Ochanomizu University
Prof. Akiko Minato, President of Tokyo Woman’s Christian University
Prof. Masako Niwa, President of Nara Women’s University
Prof. Shoko Goto, President of Japan Women’s University

Women in Afghanistan have suffered extreme social and economic disadvantages due to the conflicts of the past two decades and the succeeding Taliban administration. For example, women have been deprived of the rights to become involved in education and receive education under the Taliban administration. Even now, it is difficult for women to go out and work in the society as men. Poor women have almost no means of making a living. Yet with the recovery of their rights, women are anxious to learn. Japan Women’s University is supporting school-wide efforts to work and liaise with local people in the reconstruction of Afghanistan as a member of the Five Women’s University Consortium.

How the Five Women’s University Consortium came into being

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science, and Technology and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have adopted a policy as a part of their recovery support program for Afghanistan to invite women teachers and education officials from the country to visit five women’s universities and provide support for training in the improvement of women’s positions and women’s education. An exploratory committee consisting of representatives from the universities has been started and the consortium officially was inaugurated on May 17th, 2001

Under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science, and Technology, Ochanomizu Women’s University drafted a proposal for a training program combining initial evaluation with six weeks of training, which is aimed to train about 100 women over a period of three years. They hope eventually to build a women’s college in Afghanistan in the future. The first program was held in the winter of 2002.

This program uses the training method adopted by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and will be implemented at the five universities: Japan Women’s University, Ochanomizu University, Tsuda College, Tokyo Women’s Christian University, and Nara Women’s University. Participants will learn about the history of women’s education in Japan, the present state of women’s participation in society, as well as university administration. In addition, study tours of health and medical facilities and of elementary school, junior, and senior high schools attached to the universities will be carried out. They will also experience actual curriculum development.