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Help For Afghan School Girls

Updated on July 5, 2011
An Afghan schoolgirl. Photo by The Advocacy Project
An Afghan schoolgirl. Photo by The Advocacy Project

The news is a horrifying litany of terror. Afghan schoolgirls shot, poisoned, sprayed with acid...

The Taliban, which once banned girls and women from attending school or holding jobs, is not giving up its power and influence without a fight, and across Afghanistan, it is targeting women who dare to try to make life better for themselves and their daughters.

Its goal is plain: to terrify women back into submission and ignorance... the very ignorance that leads Afghan women to torture and sometimes kill their own daughters and daughters-in-law, the same ignorance that breeds sons filled with enough hate to join the Taliban.

Fortunately, many Afghan women are standing up and refusing to be intimidated, and they deserve the support of Western women and girls, whose hardest choice before going to school might be what to wear.

'Tis the season for charitable giving, and if you would like to help the brave women and girls of Afghanistan (and the fathers, husbands, and brothers who support them), here are some places to consider donating your money.

Hope and Frustration

A Tribute to Meena

RAWA

One of the oldest organizations working to improve the lives of Afghan women is the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, or RAWA.It was founded by Meena Keshwar Kamal, an outspoken advocate for democracy and women's rights, in 1977, when she was just 20 years old. Ten years later, Meena, who is often known as Martyred Meena by her followers, was assassinated by unknown forces, probably the Afghan Secret Police or the followers of the fundamentalist Mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

RAWA runs schools, hospitals, and other services for women and girls in Afghanistan and among Afghan refugees in Pakistan. It is also a powerful voice for democracy and social justice in Afghanistan; however, Americans should be advised that RAWA opposes both the Taliban and other fundamentalist forces within Afghanistan and the American occupation.

The International Humanities Center has partnered with RAWA to found the Afghan Women's Mission, which provides financial support for RAWA's activities. The AGM's website includes clarification on its policy towards US occupation.  

Ayenda

A good alternative for those who object to RAWA's stance on US policy is the US-Afghan Women's Council and its nonprofit partner, Ayenda: the Afghan Children's Initiative. Ayenda funds projects relating to education for Afghan children of both sexes, poverty reduction programs for women, and more.

Afghan Institute of Learning

The Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) and its American fiscal partner Creating Hope focus on empowering Afghans, especially women, through education. Founded by Sakena Yacoobi, who created a network of 80 secret homeschools for girls during the Taliban years, the AIL has not trained over 16,000 teachers (70 percent of them women), provided leadership, administrative and human rights training to 5800 Afghans (80 percent of them women), and health training to 6400 women. In addition to the state-sanctioned curriculum, the AIL provides instruction on "health, peace, democracy, leadership, and being a good citizen," and offers English, computer science, and vocational skills training, including classes on carpet weaving, embroidery, knitting, tailoring, and beauty shop management.

The AIL also operates five health clinics in Afghanistan, which also offer health education classes.

Women for Women

Women for Women International

Women for Women International is an international organization that assists women survivors of war rebuild their lives through education, job training, financial assistance, and other services. Women for Women has an active and established program in Afghanistan, and also works in Rwanda, Iraq, the Sudan, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and more.

Women for Women International is rated a 4 star (out of 4) charity by Charity Navigator. If you wish to support the work of Women for Women International, you can choose to donate to the organization or directly sponsor a woman from the country of your choice. 

Central Asia Institute

The Central Asia Institute, co-founded by Greg Mortenson, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea, supports educational programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with a special emphasis on educating girls.In addition to building schools in underserved rural areas of both countries, CAI offers educational scholarships, provides stable salaries for teachers, and provides community centers for women and public health infrastructure to combat child and maternal mortality.

CAI's Pennies for Peace program educates US schoolchildren about Central Asian cultures and involves them in fundraising efforts to support CAI's activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  

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    • Greenheart profile image

      Greenheart 

      8 years ago from Cambridge

      An eye-opening hub.

      So sobering.

      Thank-you

    • Moon Daisy profile image

      Moon Daisy 

      9 years ago from London

      I used to teach an Afghan girl, but didn't get to know her well as I only helped in the class on an irregular basis. I had no idea how difficult it would've been for her to get a similar education at home. Your hub reminded me of her and really made me think.

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 

      9 years ago from London

      not enough - even if you don't have blue eyes or pale hands, you don't know how to walk as if you are terrified and know your place.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image

      Sheila 

      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      That would be where the scarves would come in handy, for once.

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 

      9 years ago from London

      being a foreign woman in Afghanistan is even worse for the health than being an Afghan woman.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image

      Sheila 

      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      I feel a certain amount of guilt about Afghanistan. I get the feeling that there must be something concrete I could be doing to assist.

      Even if it were a way to get books to girls or something like that. Be a book-runner. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless when faced with situations such as this one, since any such venture would take skills that i don't possess. Including stamina, I'm afraid.

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 

      9 years ago from London

      life is horrifying in Afghanistan, and girls and women cope much of the worst of it.

      The neo-Taliban still thinks that blowing up girls' school is a Good Thing.

    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 

      10 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Excellent hub. This story needs to get out more. One of the books you reccomend, Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson is EXCELLENT. And his approach to creating peace one school at a time is way better than our governments' military approach. Build schools, not bombs!

      Thanks!

    • countrywomen profile image

      countrywomen 

      10 years ago from Washington, USA

      Life is really sub human for these girls. I once saw pictures from RAWA (http://www.rawa.org/gallery.html)

      P.S.: Some of these images could be disturbing.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      10 years ago from Wisconsin

      This is a great piece. We are so spoilt. We have no idea how hard it is for others to get the education we get so easily all because of what gender they were born.

    • Netters profile image

      Netters 

      10 years ago from Land of Enchantment - NM

      It is so sad what's going on over there. Thank you for the great hub.

    • Chef Jeff profile image

      Chef Jeff 

      10 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

      A society that represses womens' education is bound to be a fanatical and backward place, and the supression of womens' rights is the hallmark of the Taliban. Shame of the Taliban for not faithfully following the religion they claim to represent!

      Great hub,

      Cheff Jeff T.

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