Viral photo of Afghan mother caring for her baby while taking a college exam is so inspiring

A 25-year-old mother of three cares for her 2-month-old baby during a college entrance exam. (Photo: Yahya Erfan)
A 25-year-old mother of three cares for her 2-month-old baby during a college entrance exam. (Photo: Yahya Erfan)

Jahan Taab is a 25-year-old woman living in the small village of Oshto in Afghanistan, where she is married to a farmer, taking care of three children, and simultaneously studying to get a university education. In just one viral moment captured by Afghan professor Yahya Erfan, Taab has become a symbol of strength for women and mothers in her community and around the world.

After traveling nearly ten hours to the capital city of Afghanistan’s Nili district, Taab joined dozens of other students in taking the Kankor exam, which is the entrance exam for the social science course at Nasirkhosraw Higher Education Institute in Nili city. But while sitting for the test, Taab’s two-month-old child began to cry, who was sitting next to her desk. Taab excused herself from her seat, took the child into her lap, sat on the ground, and continued working.

Erfan, who was proctoring the exam, took notice of the Hazara woman with her baby on the ground, in addition to the reactions of students around them. He snapped a photo of the mother, which he shared in a Facebook post, acknowledging the importance of the beautiful moment.

“It was amazing and all of the classmates were in admiration of her,” Erfan told CNN, while adding to Buzzfeed News that those around her “were so sympathetic.”

And it turns out, they weren’t the only ones, as the photo has been recognized by thousands of people around the world.

“Taking a college entrance exam and taking care of your baby: not mutually exclusive,” political scientist Ian Bremmer noted in his tweet. While Afghan education activist Shaharzad Akbar wrote, “Afghan women are unstoppable.”

Others have chimed in to acknowledge the vital importance of the photo, as well as to cheer Taab on. “What I always prayed for. Women to be given more opportunities,” one woman wrote in a Twitter reply, while another man expressed, “This is the change.”

However, some of the most important replies are making a statement about the support that women like Taab need in order to achieve the goals that they are working so hard towards achieving.

“These women have but two choices: submit or fight,” one person shared. “The fighters are unfathomable courageous, but the ones that submit, often out of necessity or social pressure, also need support.”

In the case of Taab, who passed the exam by 152 points and was accepted to the social science faculty, she now needs help to pay the 10,000 to 12,000 Afghanis per semester tuition and find a way to travel from her village to the private school — things she doesn’t solely have access to coming from a poor family.

U.K. based organization Afghan Youth Association has since taken the lead on the cause, setting up a Gofundme page for Taab, which is taking donations. The association, which is led by university students, aims to integrate Afghan community members into society by ensuring equal treatment for women and men, and encouraging people like Taab to take steps to improve their situations.

In the case for all women, mothers, and hard-working parents, this is certainly a win.

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