All of us at Creating Hope International (CHI) and the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) thank our donors for their support of Afghan women. Since January this year, our learning centers provided education in literacy, tailoring, English, Arabic, math, and science to 19,500 students, of which 13,600 were women and girls. Through June, some 1,620 women took part in educational workshops including topics in reproductive health, leadership, food preparation, and our expectant mother workshops. Over 700 of these women took part in teacher training workshops and seminars, bettering themselves as educators and leaders of their communities.
Educating women is one of the best ways to empower them because they gain self-determination. They gain the freedom to make their own decisions and they gain the skills needed to earn money for themselves and their families. Because of this, communities begin to see women as capable, fully-fledged members of society. This approach allows both the women getting an education and the communities to change their preconceived notions at the grassroots level.
In June, our Herat offices held a week long leadership workshop for 37 women, a majority of whom were university students in their late teens to mid-twenties. They discussed things such as what makes a leader, the difference between bureaucratic administration and leadership, how to share and build upon ideas, topics in social justice, and how leadership can make democracy work in communities. Going in, the women by and large did not know what leadership was; many assumed only people from a particular background or people with weapons could be real leaders. Coming out, the women had new outlooks of what it meant to be a leader.
Sahar, a young woman who took part in the workshop, said:
“This workshop gave me new ideas toward a new thinking for a better life for me and my community. I feel more self-confident and sufficient in myself anymore. I learned there is no limitation for a woman to be a good leader. I will not be shy anymore. As a good leader I am going to change my future."
Sharifa, coming from a different background, had this to say:
"I am a tailor. Before I came to this workshop, I believed that a tailor doesn't need to be a leader. Leadership is only for a certain group of people in a community, but my mind has changed after this workshop. I learned to use my knowledge usefully and transfer it to others. I learned to observe mutual respect as a good leader in the community. Observing justice is another change that I feel in myself since attending the leadership workshop."
We hosted 16 of these leadership workshops through June, and we have scheduled an additional 21 over the next twelve months. Every day we are providing more and more opportunities for Afghan women to empower themselves and each other, be it through our learning centers in literacy and tailoring classes, through our leadership and reproductive health workshops, or through our clinics providing maternal and preventative care. Again, we want to thank you all so much for your support, we could not have accomplished what we have without you!
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