Jamila Akbarzai was encouraged by her father to obtain a good education, like a number of other Afghan women leaders in civil society.
Jamila remarks: “My father was a successful businessman. He encouraged me to get a good education, along with my six brothers. I am very grateful of my both parents and I want other Afghan women to have that chance.”
Jamila earned a B.Sc. from Kabul University and worked at the International Rescue Committee in Pashawar Pakistan. Jamila was driven by a desire to empower women to gain economic self-Sufficiency. In 1989, Jamila established one of the first local Afghan Women-led nonprofits: Afghan Women’s Welfare Department (AWWD).
Jamila reflects: “We as a women’s organization will keep trying until we bring Afghan women into decision-making positions. So far, women and men in our society have different power in decision-making. We want to change the situation …. I believe that any initiative and efforts without the participation and active role of women in Afghanistan will never lead to success.”
AWWD aims to enhance women’s capabilities to improve their economic and social well-being. With 120 staff, the organization works in Kabul, Jalalabad and Mazar-e-Sharif. AWWD empowers Afghan women and youth by providing them quality services in education, health, capacity building, income generation and human rights/awareness.
“Despite many successes, there are still more to go and a lots of serious challenges have to be addressed. These successes in empowering women in Afghanistan could not happen without the dedicated effort of courageous women’s organizations.”
In order to increase female enrolment at the university level, AWWD provides pre-university program for 400 girls and literacy program for 800 women and girls. AWWD also offers human rights workshops for 300 women, a legal aid clinic project for 300 women, and English and computer courses for 500 women and girls.
AWWD’s greatest accomplishment in the past years has been to train more than 30,000 women on economic development, health and education. More than 50% of AWWD’s trainees are self-sufficient and work in different fields.
AWWD’s organization goal is to promote educational and social status for all Afghan women, within the family, community and the world.
Jamila strongly believes that AWWD’s “young team members are our own experts and future leaders.” The organization supports young team members through initiatives that engage youth leadership and builds their capacity.