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Oct 18, 2015 01:31 PM EDT

Kabul University To Offer Afghanistan's First Gender, Women's Studies Program

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Kabul University on Saturday launched a master's degree program on Gender and Women's Studies, the first program of its kind in the nation.

Twenty-eight students -- 18 women and 10 men -- have enrolled in the master's program which will "fully explore what women do and can offer their society" in a nation that has been  --  and in some cases, still is - making it difficult for many girls to get an education, The Associated Press reported. The establishment of this course is an essential step forward to providing more opportunities for Afghan women.

"Women in Afghanistan have had it tough, and we have lost (a lot of opportunities) for children," Farima Naderi, a Kabul native who helped set up this initiative with the United Nations, told the AP. "This program ... will widen opportunities for Afghan women."

According to the United Nations, the mission of the program is to shape and mold future advocates of gender equality, which will obviously be needed in a country in which women were denied by "years of war and Taliban repression," the AP reported. The program will also aim to generate research on gender, violence against women and underprivileged groups; and raise awareness about men's and women's social responsibilities.

"We witness a historic moment at Kabul University as we open a gender and women's studies program here with support from United Nations Development Program press of Afghanistan and the Republic of Korea," Afghan Higher Education Minister Farida Momand said in a statement. "This program will serve as a model that universities throughout the country can replicate it in the future."

The program will teach a comprehensive curriculum covering key areas that relate to gender equality and women's rights, such as legal protections and the role of women in poverty reduction, conflict resolution, civil society engagement and politics.

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