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Women’s Narratives of Education in Conflict-Affected Afghanistan



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The aim of this explorative arts-based study was to understand women’s narratives of education in conflict-affected Afghanistan. However, the research also left a profound impact on me. The study brought me back to Kabul, the place of my birth for the first time since my family and I left as refugees. I start by discussing how and why I got to this study, providing personal background so that readers can better understand the perspective through which this study was conducted. Next I review the literature in the field in order to understand women’s education historically and at present in Afghanistan. To conduct the research, I used a transdisciplinary approach that draws from aspects of interpretivism and Inidgenous methodology, with in-depth storytelling and autoethnography methods. The findings attempt to relate what I saw and felt during fieldwork. Here I review six women’s stories that shed light on the issues that they faced in their education in Kabul. The main issues were: extreme poverty; gender harassment; corruption; a lack of adequate facilities and expert faculty in schools; ethnic discrimination; and a low quality of primary and secondary education compared to the region. All six women’s narratives revealed some form of violence in their education experiences. There are several contributions that their stories along with my autoethnography provide. First are the responses to the research questions on the realities of women’s education in Afghanistan. I have explored the issues of peace and violence in Afghan women’s education that had not been addressed in the same way prior to this research. The second is of incorporating new approaches within peace-building in education that are about the arts and holistic perspectives. The third contribution is the usage of storytelling in research conducted in Afghanistan, as a culturally-rooted and traditional method and source of knowledge. I hope that future research in conflict-affected periphery settings continues to draw from its own knowledge production and construction. The aim is for the stories and findings to move those who are involved in education to construct policies that tackle the barriers for women’s education in Afghanistan.





Cremin, Hilary


peace education, women's education in Afghanistan, peace education in Afghanistan, autoethnography


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
American Association of University Women