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Posts Under: Success Stories

Young Women for Change (YWC)

Young Women for Change (YWC) is the first young women’s movement NGO, established in 2011 by two young college students, Noorjahan Akbar and Anita Haidary.

YWC is an independent non-profit organization formed by dozens of volunteer women and men advocates across Afghanistan who are dedicated to empowering Afghan women and improving their lives through social and economical participation. YWC focuses on political empowerment, advocacy, training, and community involvement.

YWC’s vision is to promote gender equality, empower women and increase Afghan women’s social participation.

Anita reflects that:“the current context of Afghanistan is very unstable and economically dependent,” with a lack of rule of law and “lack of governmental interest in the inclusion of women in the sustainability and transaction process.”
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Malala Yousafzai addresses United Nations Youth Assembly on her 16th birthday, July 12, 2013

Here is a video link to an address of astounding power, maturity, dignity and pure inspiration, from Malala Yousafzai, the courageous Pakistani teenager who was shot point blank in the head by the Taliban last year for advocating education for girls. But she survived, enduring long hospitalizations and reconstructive operations in Pakistan and Great Britain, where she now lives with her family. She celebrated her 16th birthday on July 12th in a stellar way— by giving this extraordinary address at the UN Youth Assembly to dignitaries and over 500 youth activist from around the world, calling for universal education as a key to a better future.

Gordon Brown, the U.N.’s special envoy for education, helped bring her to New York for this address. She stood there, diminutive, calm and strong, wearing a shawl once owned by Benazir Bhutto, and thanked all the thousands who sent love and good wishes, her doctors, nurses and staff, and all those who have supported her recovery and ongoing advocacy for equality and education.
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Presence and Persuasion: Women’s Communication for Political, Economic and Personal Empowerment

By Marissa Moran, Albany Associates

I recently attended a conference where the word “empowerment” was thrashed about in search of a definition. Western aid agencies like to think they can “empower” women by giving them the necessary tools and services to build a future for themselves, but sometimes it’s even simpler than that.

Different women, from Afghanistan to Libya to America, have different ideas of how they can become empowered in their specific circumstances, from the micro level of personal relationships to the macro platform of political participation. The solution to the empowerment debate lies in local affairs, but no matter the context, communication and the ability to present oneself in a way that makes others listen is key.

Verbal, written, and behavioral communication skills are often considered only for those in leadership positions (maybe that’s how they got there in the first place), but training in these skills should be available to all women in a community supplemented by a network of peers and mentors that allows for easy connections.
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Anita Haidary, A role model, a change-maker and a leader

By Zuhra Abhar

Anita, a young Afghan college student, is the co-founder and the Executive Director of Young Women for Change

Anita says: “I am proud of being an active voice of young women and men in society who believe in change.”

Anita grew up in an open-minded family: her parents played an important role in getting Anita and her four sisters and one brother an education. During the war in 1997, Anita and her family fled to Pakistan. In 2002, Anita and her family returned to Afghanistan with hope for a better future.

As a young girl, Anita always hoped that one day the voice of Afghan women could be heard and they would have equality and rights. Anita is a leader and a role model for other young Afghan women. In 2008, she graduated from high school and went to American University Central Asia. After six months of hard work and dedication, she was accepted and received a four-year scholarship at Mount Holyoke College. Currently, Anita is in her third year of college. Her passion and dedication encouraged her to become a voice of women in Afghanistan.
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GoodWeave: Weaving Opportunities for Women in Afghanistan

“It is audacious to aspire to end human rights abuses in an unsettled nation, but GoodWeave’s progress in just one year proves to me that where there is a willingness to try, much can be accomplished.” – Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, And the Mountains Echoed, and A Thousand Splendid Suns

GoodWeave International works to end child labor and trafficking in the rug industry and to support weaving communities around the world. Building on its nearly 20 years of experience in India and Nepal, GoodWeave expanded to Afghanistan in 2011. Many people said GoodWeave couldn’t succeed in this war-torn country. Today, GoodWeave is proving them wrong, and the very first certified Afghan rug reached the market last winter.

The journey of that rug was not easy – it took building faith in communities that have seen too many short-range development projects. It took adapting GoodWeave’s best-in-class supply chain monitoring program to reach women weavers hidden on home-based looms. And it took delicate, even dangerous, negotiation to ensure that girls found working would have the chance to learn.
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Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL)

By Zuhra Abhar

Ms. Sakena Yacoobi, Founder & Executive Director
Afghan Institute of Learning (
Established in Peshawar, Pakistan in 1995

AIL’s top priorities are providing quality education and healthcare to all who seek it, quality training, including capacity building, leadership and human rights workshops, teacher training and health workshops, reviving the arts and culture of Afghanistan, and teaching about peace and forgiveness.

Afghan Women Leaders Connect has supported AIL’s work since 2002, when at that time the young organization was opening an office in Kabul and converting offices in Herat and Jalalabad into formal presences, no longer subject to a Taliban ban. Since then, Connect has supported a myriad of AIL’s programs for several years across Afghanistan, including teacher training, a preschool, fast track classes to mainstream older girls who had lost years of schooling under Taliban restrictions, literacy classes, health clinics and skills training programs for self-employment.
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A Talented Young Woman, Arezo Qanih

By Zuhra Abhar

Ms. Arezo Qanih, Program Manager of the Educational Training Centre for Poor Women and Girls of Afghanistan ( has been engaged in the protection of women’s rights since the early age of 12 years old.

Ms. Arezo remembers that as a little girl who joined ECW alongside her mother, Ms. Malika Qanih (ECW’s Founder and Director), she was shocked by the lack of opportunities for women in Afghanistan and their lack of financial independence.

Ms. Arezo says:

“Women were trapped between four walls. They had nothing to do all day and did not know how to support themselves financially. The center was meant to be a junction for women to learn from each other.” In its first year, ECW assisted 500 women who attended sessions and shared their experiences and ideas.
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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 »

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 »