This week I’m answering mailbag questions from readers. Thank you to everyone who submitted a question — please continue to ask anything that’s on your mind in the comments below.
The first question is from Yerlin in Colombia. He asks, “How much action or effort must be made to see Afghan girls back in school? Do you think the U.N. advocacy is enough? What role must the neighbouring countries take?”
Thank you for this thoughtful question, Yerlin! In September, I wrote about the limits of the U.N. and multilateralism during General Assembly week. You might find that post useful if you’re interested in further reading.U.N advocacy is definitely not enough. That’s why I’m working with some of the most inspiring Afghan women activists I know — Zarqa Yaftali and Shaharzad Akbar — to demand the Taliban reverse its ban on girls’ education. The open letter targets the Taliban, the G20 and Muslim country leaders because we need to pressure multiple powers to help Afghan girls.
The Taliban continues to keep schools closed for girls and prevent women from learning and exercising basic freedoms. But I believe that we can see change if we continue to pressure our leaders to act. If you haven’t already, please sign and share the letter with families and friends.
As for neighbouring countries, right now the most important thing they can do is welcome Afghan refugees who are crossing their borders. Leaving home is never anyone’s first choice – families fleeing Afghanistan are trying to survive. And we should all do everything we can to help them.
Our next question — also related to Afghanistan — is from Angelica. She wants to know: “Is there a news platform that you know of that is consistently reliable for keeping up with the important changes happening in the Afghan community here in the US and abroad?”
I really like this question because our news sources can change our understanding of the broader story. I follow coverage from traditional media like BBC, The Economist, Foreign Affairs and CNN. I also follow reporters, advocates and officials based in Afghanistan who help add context.
Yalda Hakim of the BBC covers Afghan girls and women and does a fantastic job amplifying their voices. Tolo News — Afghanistan’s first 24/7 news channel — provides a local lens for the latest news. And if you’d like more coverage of Afghan people in your community, you could write to your local newspaper or TV news station and ask them to cover these important stories. Your letter (or email or tweet) could help a wider audience learn about their lives and their home country!
Now for something lighter. Amy asks, “What TV shows or movies have you watched recently that you recommend?”
Readers of this newsletter know that I’m a big Ted Lasso fan. I have lots of thoughts on the season 2 finale and am heartbroken that Nate betrayed Ted! I just can’t believe it. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
I’ve always loved animation and I recently watched the animated Addams Family movie – it was great. I also saw Zoolander for the first time and I couldn’t stop laughing.
If you haven’t yet seen CODA on Apple TV+, add it to your list. CODA stands for “child of deaf adults” – the film follows a young hearing woman who wants to study music but faces resistance from her deaf parents. So many young women can relate to her story — when our dreams differ from what our parents want for us.
Finally, the last question comes from Manisha who wants to know: “I remember you once said that at Oxford the three main things to take care of are — study, sleep and socializing. And people say that you can only have two of those at once. Reflecting back on your time at university, what advice do you have for current students to manage these three aspects of their university lives as well as possible?”
I always get asked for advice on university life and even as a graduate I’m not sure I have all the answers. Every person is different.
I think balance between all three is ideal – but one important thing I learned is you should not sacrifice socialising or dismiss it as a distraction from your studies. Socialising is part of learning and at Oxford I met so many amazing people. Those relationships will stay with you long after exams are over.
From Sarah and Vee, I also learned about time management, watching them balance their lives as activists and students. Your college friends can provide advice, productivity tips, brainstorming or just the validation we all need when we start to doubt our abilities.
Thank you again to all who asked questions. Please continue to leave more in the comments below and I hope to answer them in future months.