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Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan


Lauryn Oates has been passionate about women’s rights there since 1996, when she first learned how the Taliban was treating women. She converted  her passion into action by setting up a chapter of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan) in Vancouver, and is currently projects director for the organization.

“Girls were banned from school. Women couldn’t work outside the home and weren’t allowed to even leave their homes without a male relative. The rules effectively meant that women and girls were no longer human beings,” Oates said.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we are pleased to announce a new partnership with the Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies (KIMS), a higher education institution located in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which provides employment-oriented education to Kandahari youth, with an emphasis on women’s access. Students take classes in courses such as English language, information technology, and business programs. The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) based in Calgary, Alberta delivers online training from their faculty via Skype as part of KIMS’ programming.

KIMS promotes the participation of women in the economy, political life, and Afghan civil society by providing employment-oriented education that has created significant change for students in Kandahar, particularly for women. From 2007 to 2012, 2,278 students graduated from KIMS’ professional training programs, most of them women studying Information Technology at no charge. Of these students, at least 1,157 were able to secure or obtain promotions. Each employed graduate provided financial support for an average of seven family members, resulting in KIMS helping to create a source of income for more than 9,800 Kandahar residents, or close to 1% of the population of Kandahar province.

CW4WAfghan PROGRAM UPDATE: Literacy classes underway in Bagrami.

Literacy, and particularly female literacy rates, is among the best measures of sustainable development. This is one reason why education deserves to be put on a pedestal within aid and development assistance.

When citizens are educated, they are better equipped to tackle problems like poverty, disease and instability, reducing the burden on foreign donor governments. Yet in Afghanistan, literacy rates have remained stubbornly low, despite numerous other human development indicators, such as maternal mortality and access to primary healthcare, skyrocketing over the past decade. Data from 2011 (UNICEF) found that only one in five young women (aged 15 to 24) was literate.

There are several reasons for this, and among those we at Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan) have identified, is a lack of reading material. Many people who have limited schooling, such as a few years of primary school, lose their literacy because of limited opportunities to apply it. There is a very weak local publishing industry, with most books being imported and of limited relevance to new readers in Afghanistan.

Media coverage of Afghanistan over the past decade is notoriously prone to selective coverage of the negative -- the latest bomb blast or kidnapping -- while doing a dismal job of telling the story of the transformative progress that has occurred, and what exactly is at stake should security deteriorate this year upon the withdrawal of foreign troops."

A life-changing first trip to Afghanistan for Madeliene Tarasick, CW4WAfghan's President, along with several CW4WAfghan team members who travelled in May 2013 to Afghanistan to “see for themselves what their decade of fundraising had accomplished…”  This was uniquely documented by reporter, Mellissa Fung. Mellissa completes a story she began five years ago in Afghanistan that was interrupted by her kidnapping.

Watch the 15 minute documentary on CBC, The National:

Afghan women are concerned that, as the withdrawal of US troops nears, their gains of the last 12 years will be sacrificed in a peace deal with the Taliban, or that they will simply be forgotten. The international community, particularly the US and Europe, must not let this happen.

By Samina Ahmed, Op-ed contributor / November 12, 2013
Christian Science Monitor
Islamabad and Kabul

Melissa Roddy, November 13, 2013
The Huffington Post

I went to Afghanistan. I went there as a tourist, a single woman, unaccompanied, unguided and unsponsored by any sort of group, government, corporation or organization. I had complete control over what I experienced. It took me six years to save up enough money for the trip.


Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
PO Box 86016, Marda Loop, Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2T 6B7

t: 1 (403) 244-5625

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