“I’m a 16-year old poet and I sold some books at my last show for the Back to School Campaign. I would appreciate it if you would use the money to purchase books” wrote a young women who enclosed $44 for a girls’ school in Afghanistan.
Some of the donations are small, some are larger, but the broad support for the Feminist Majority Foundation Back to School Campaign has demonstrated a deep concern for the plight of Afghan women and girls under the Taliban regime and a commitment to stop gender apartheid in Afghanistan.
Launched in August 2000, the Back to School Campaign includes more than 325 action teams in 39 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and in six other countries around the world. Women’s rights, human rights and community organizations; families and friends; 60 colleges and universities; individuals; and public and private school groups have all joined with the Feminist Majority Foundation in this effort. They are demonstrating their support for students and teachers in home schools in Afghanistan and refugee schools in Pakistan, recruiting college scholarships for Afghan women, and raising awareness about gender apartheid.
One of the 34 high school based action teams organized a week of activities for the school’s 2,000 students and faculty. The Women’s Studies class at High Point High School in Prince Georges County, MD initiated the project after 11th grader Esayas Wereta asked teacher Lu Morrissey if the class could do something to raise awareness about the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls in Afghanistan. Morrissey invited Feminist Majority Foundation staff to meet with the class to talk about the Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid. With the enthusiastic support of Morrissey and Principal William Ryan, the students adopted a refugee school and involved the whole student body in their efforts that included a Day of Remembrance with students and teachers wearing the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Symbols of Remembrance and observance of a moment of silence in support of Afghan women and girls.
The overwhelming response to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Back to School Campaign has resulted in awareness actions all across the U.S, and thousands of signatures on petitions urging the President and the Secretary of State to continue to refuse to recognize the Taliban and to do everything possible to restore women’s human rights in Afghanistan. Action teams have contributed several thousand dollars to home schools for girls in Afghanistan and refugee schools for girls in Pakistan. The contributions are helping to pay teachers’ salaries and have been used to purchase pencils, paper, chalkboards and other basic supplies that we take for granted in our public schools.
The number of action teams is increasing daily. To join the campaign, visit our website www.feminist.org and sign up to help Afghan women and girls go back to school.