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Christian Science Monitor

The courage, poise, and wisdom of Malala Yousafzai, the girl who was shot by the Taliban for advocating girls' education in Pakistan, has captured the hearts and minds of Westerners. While Western girls may take their education for granted, in the Muslim world, girls must cross cultural and religious barriers to attend school. Here are five snapshots of girls' education in the Muslim world.

by Christian Science Monitor

Pakistani girls gather under a poster of Malala Yousufzai in her old school in Mingora, Swat Valley, Pakistan.

(Anja Niedringhaus/AP)

1. Pakistan

While government data estimates that a quarter of Pakistani girls are literate, independent sources place female literacy at just 12 percent, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). After the Taliban shot Ms. Yousafzai for advocating girls' education, her former school proudly hung a giant poster of her on the wall of the assembly hall. A year later, the poster has been removed. The school made no plans to recognize the anniversary of Malala's shooting by Taliban, teachers and students are afraid, AP reports.

Afghan school girls walk near the entrance gate of the presidential palace after an attack by the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, June 25.

(Ahmad Jamshid/AP)

2. Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, girls were not permitted to attend school under the Taliban regime, however under the fledgling democracy's 2008 education law all citizens are ensured the right to education, according to a Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women report. However the Taliban still holds many rural areas under its thumb. Insurgents have forcibly closed several schools, driving some girls to sneak into underground schools for the chance of an education, the Washington Post reports.

Girls take the final examination of their primary school in Sanaa June 25, 2013. The final examination is held during the 9th grade of primary education in Yemen.

(Khaled Abdullah/Reuters)

3. Yemen

Yemen has one of largest gender gaps in the world. Less than a third of the nation's secondary school-aged girls were enrolled in school, while nearly half of eligible boys were enrolled in secondary school in 2011, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). 

Palestinian girls take part in a re-enactment of the annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca, at their school in the West Bank city of Nablus, October 10.

(Abed Omar Qusini/Reuters)

4. Palestine

Women and girls enjoy equal access to education and in many cases outnumber their male peers, making Palestinian women some of the most educated women in the Middle East, according to a report from UN's Palestine Women's Research and Documentation Center. However, the report indicates that drop out rates for girls still surpasses that of boys.

Primary and secondary school girls take a school wide English language test at Al-Redwan Islamic School on November 8, 2012 in the Nasr City district of Cairo, Egypt.

(Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor)

5. Egypt

In recent years, Egypt has made strides in boosting school enrollment rates for both boys and girls. More girls in Egypt are enrolled in school than ever before, though gender gaps still exist, especially in Upper Egypt, UNICEF reports. However, recent political upheaval has jeopardized such progress. Many schools more closely resemble "rank penitentiaries rather than hubs of learning," reports Lauren E. Bohn for CNN. 

Written by Christian Science Monitor
Photos courtesy of Christian Science Monitor
Images created by Anja Niedringhaus/AP, Ahmad Jamshid/AP, Khaled Abdullah/Reuters, Abed Omar Qusini/Reuters, Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor
Last changed on: 10/29/2013 1:23:48 AM

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