Tahmina Payenda (1st R) attends a ceremony in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, Aug. 5, 2018. (Xinhua/Rahmat Alizadah)
KABUL, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- "No doubt, achieving success for a woman in a patriarchal society is difficult but not impossible. I believe in the goal of gender equity and I am sure that the hard work of talented girls would ensure achieving this goal one day in Afghanistan," Tahmina Payenda told Xinhua.
The talented girl from Kabul, Tahmina Payenda, who secured the first position from among the 158,000 students at the university entrance exam this year, said proudly, "Girls can be more talented than boys and securing the high score by me at the varsity entrance test is proof of this fact."
A total of 165,698 hopeful Afghans had registered to pass the university entry test early this year and out of the 158,589 who took the exam a couple of months ago, more than 60,000 hopefuls qualified to enroll in state-run universities and higher education institutions.
Feeling a great sense of achievement, Tahmina, who graduated from Afghan-Turk High School, a private educational center, early this year, said "her hard work combined with the support of her parents" paved the way for her success to top all the contesters at the varsity entry test this year.
Wearing a scarf to show her respect to Islamic values and Afghan traditions, and believing in gender equity, Payenda said softly that she never regards women as second-class citizens in the patriarchal Afghan society where misogyny is common.
"I have never believed that the girls have less intelligence than boys," said the brave girl.
"The girls can become more talented than the boys if the environment allows them to get an education," she added.
In the insurgency-plagued Afghanistan many parents believe in old traditions that are against women's education and don't send their girls to school.
Nevertheless, Payenda's achievement in the Afghan varsity's entry exam has been widely welcomed and appreciated by her fellow Afghans.
Afghan Minister for Higher Education Najibullah Khawja Omari, while announcing the varsity entry test results on Wednesday, said "I declare with pride that a girl Tahmina Payenda by securing 353 out of 360 marks has topped all students" this year.
Congratulating Payenda over her success and commending her talent for securing first position at the varsity entrance exam to enroll in the Kabul medical academy, Omari also called upon other girls to follow suit.
Omari praised Payenda's success as a stride towards enhancing women's education in the male-dominated country where many families especially in the countryside oppose education for girls, and wished a bright future for Payenda and her fellow girls by extending his congratulations.
"Tahmina Payenda's success today, is the result of her hard work in the past. Besides congratulating her, I wish her more success in the future and hope she can play a proactive role for ensuring gender equity in future," Payenda's classmate Hadia told Xinhua.
Supporting education for girls, Payenda's father Abdul Sabour who is an engineer by profession commended his daughter for her hard work and advocated for girls' education, stressing that all barriers should be removed to facilitate girls going to school.
"In my opinion all boys and girls are equally talented and therefore gender discrimination should be removed in Afghanistan to ensure equity," Payenda said.