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Shuhada Organization: Founded by Dr. Sima Samar

By Zuhra Abhar

The Shuhada Organization (, founded by Dr. Sima Samar, is the oldest Afghan NGO working in the region, and the largest Afghan woman-led organization. Shuhada was one of the first grantees of Afghan Women Leaders Connect, back in 2003 after the fall of the Taliban. This first grant of several to Shuhada supported nurses and midwives working to provide health care to women in 6 remote villages of Jaghori district in Ghazni, central Afghanistan, a lifeline for these women who had no other access to emergency health care. In this project, educators also provided literacy training. Continue reading »

A talented woman, a leader, a mother, a doctor, Dr. Sima Samar

By Zuhra Abhar

A talented woman, a leader, a mother, a doctor, Dr. Sima Samar was born in Jarghori District, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan in 1957. Dr. Sima spent her childhood in Jaghori and later on joined her father who was an officer in the civil service in Lashkargah, Helmand. Dr. Sima came from a large family. She studied in Lashkargah and after graduating from high school studied in the Faculty of Medicine at Kabul University, graduating in 1982. Continue reading »

Hassina Sherjan, a successful Afghan businesswoman and civil society leader

By Zuhra Abhar

Hassina Sherjan, a successful Afghan businesswoman and civil society leader, has dedicated most of her life for her beloved country and women of Afghanistan. Hassina states, “I fulfilled my dream of contributing to the rebuilding of my country” by establishing the Aid Afghanistan for Education ( and the Boumi Company ( Continue reading »

Aid Afghanistan for Education (AAE) founded by Hassina Sherjan

By Zuhra Abhar

Aid Afghanistan for Education ( is dedicated to empowering women and rehabilitating the education system in Afghanistan. Its focus is to accelerate learning and vocational training. AAE was founded in 1996 by Hassina Sherjan, an Afghan businesswoman and civil society leader who left Afghanistan as a refugee in 1979. Hassina says with a smile that one of her 20-year old students in 4th grade (catching up for lost years) told her: “I would like to let you know if it wasn’t for this program, I wouldn’t be able to write my name.” Continue reading »

Boumi Company in Afghanistan

By Zuhra Abhar

Hassina Sherjan, founder of the Boumi Company (, is an Afghan businesswoman who always aimed to build a successful business while creating sustainable employment for both Afghan women and men. Hassina returned to her home country after 23 years and established Boumi in 2005. Boumi was launched with an initial local workforce of 15 women and 3 men. Within a year, the company expanded to 50 Afghan women and men employees. Continue reading »

Maryam Rahmani, Country Representative, Afghan Women’s Resource Center (AWRC)

By Mariam Jalalzada

When Maryam Rahmani walks in the room, she is clearly a kind but tough, business-like young woman guided by a noble mission in life: “It is education that can enable a woman to understand her rights and fight for them.” Maryam and her family, like millions of Afghans, had to relocate between Afghanistan and Pakistan many times in order to escape the harsh consequences of a prolonged war and to pursue educational opportunities. Maryam, the oldest of four, took refuge in Pakistan with her family during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the late 1980s. She studied in a Pakistani school until 10th grade. Her family moved back to Kabul in 1995, not knowing that in a matter of few months, Afghanistan would be engulfed for a period of five most repressive years. Maryam briefly attended the middle school before the Taliban took over Kabul city early 1996 and banned girls from school. Maryam, like millions of other Afghan girls, was at a loss. Continue reading »

Afghan Women’s Resource Center (AWRC)

By Mariam Jalalzada

AWRC was one of the first grantees of Afghan Women Leaders Connect, 10 years ago in 2002, just months after the fall of the Taliban. With this first grant from Connect, AWRC established a women’s resource center in Charbagh, Laghman, to provide a “one-stop shop” and safe place for women to obtain training in sewing, embroidery, home business development, literacy, health education and human rights. Since then, Connect has funded numerous AWRC projects to empower Afghan women in practical ways through holistic women’s centers in provinces outside Kabul. Continue reading »

Innovations in Mobile Technology Enable Young Women to Safely Attain Literacy in Afghanistan

By Krista Clement

Photo by Jawad Jalali – The phone is called Ustad Mobile (Mobile Teacher) and provides national curriculum courses in Dari and Pashtu languages

Afghanistan’s women leaders are no strangers to violence. In a recent attack in Eastern Laghman province, Nadia Sediqqi, head of the women’s affairs department, was shot and killed on her way to work by an unknown gunman. Ms. Seddiqi had replaced Hainifa Saifi as the department’s chair after Ms. Saifi was tragically killed in a bombing only five months earlier. Continue reading »

At AWRC, women’s empowerment starts right within the organization itself

By Mariam Jalalzada

The belief is that since women can better understand the challenges faced by women, it is imperative to build their capacities and support them in becoming key decision-makers so they can design and implement projects that best suit the needs of women. Many of the leadership positions at the AWRC are occupied by women who started as participants in one of AWRC’s women’s centers, and then took on administrative and operational roles, and leading and designing programs. Continue reading »

Maryam’s Interview with Connect