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Sahar in The Seattle Times

Read about Sahar Education in The Seattle Times ahead of the Washington Give Big campaign on May 7th and 8th!

Sadaf, age 18, joined the inaugural round of the Stealth Sisters program in July 2022, only months after the Taliban closed schools for girls in Afghanistan. Joining the program was an act of desperation for Sadaf — restrictions on women mounted by the day.

Innovative, courageous organizations and individuals are ensuring that the Taliban’s announcement didn’t mean the end of girls’ educational opportunities. Washington-based nonprofit Sahar’s programs, such as Stealth Sisters, teach English and computer skills.

Sadaf completed the program in December 2022 and is now fluent in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, with improved English. By offering online Zoom-based Dari language classes, Sadaf became financially independent.

Perhaps even more critically, like many program graduates, Sadaf experienced increased confidence and willingness to speak up.

Surveys show that program participation immediately addresses feelings of depression and hopelessness caused by the current country conditions, according to Shogofa Amini, Sahar’s programs manager, an Afghan immigrant passionate about women’s empowerment and gender equity.

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Events News

Breaking News: The Taliban have shuttered learning centers in Kabul claiming enrollment of girls above 6th grade.

Reports have shared that multiple centers were blockaded, stopping students from attending on April 1st.

Officials of Kabul’s educational institutions have been warned by the Taliban of severe consequences should they persist in their educational endeavors.

In a recent development, the Taliban’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice issued directives to educational center administrators, instructing them to prohibit entry for girls wearing veils deemed to have “non-dark colors.”

These actions unfold against the backdrop of the Taliban’s recent consolidation of power in Afghanistan, marked by their decree prohibiting female students beyond the sixth grade from accessing schools and pursuing higher education at universities.

Observers interpret these moves as part of the Taliban’s broader agenda to systematically marginalize women and girls within Afghan society, through sustained coercion and restriction of their participation in public life.

Hasht e Subh Daily

This comes as another blow to the hopes of Afghan children who only want to learn. The freedom to education is a basic human right being denied to millions across Afghanistan. This number is expected to grow as the Taliban carries out plans to close more Kabul learning centers.

“This clearly shows the Taliban aren’t planning to lift bans on girls’ education and public spaces, which pushes women out of society. This systematic elimination of women is a form of gender apartheid and should be acknowledged as such.”

Meetra Alokozay, Executive Director of Sahar Education

Underground classes continue to be the best option for girls and women inside the country who hunger to learn. You can support the efforts of brave young women by donating today!

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International Women’s Day Zoom Round Table

Missed our International Women’s Day event? You can still learn more about our programs and the impact they have on Afghan women and men by watching the recording on YouTube!

With the continued gender apartheid in Afghanistan, awareness is one of the greatest weapons against the Taliban.

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Empowering Women in Kabul: The Journey of Threads of Hope

In the heart of Kabul, a transformative program called Threads of Hope has been weaving a tapestry of empowerment and education for women who, until now, have been left in the shadows of society. These women, all over the age of 25 and coming from impoverished communities, embarked on a journey 15 weeks ago that promised to not only teach them valuable skills but also to illuminate the path to self-reliance and awareness.

Health and Empowerment: A Foundation for Growth

The Threads of Hope program is not merely about learning to sew; it’s a holistic approach to education. Over the last 15 weeks, participants have delved into crucial health workshops covering a broad spectrum of topics from reproductive health and menstruation hygiene to mental health and anger management. These sessions offer more than just information; they provide life-changing insights and tools for managing one’s health and well-being.

The program has placed a strong emphasis on women’s empowerment, tackling issues like early marriage and domestic violence through open discussions and shared experiences. It’s a space where stories of early marriage, often a silent burden carried by many of the participants, are brought to light. One student’s revelation about leadership within the household sparked conversations about women’s roles beyond traditional expectations, challenging norms and encouraging new perspectives on what it means to be a leader.

Tailoring Success: More Than Just Stitches

The tailoring classes offered by Threads of Hope have been a cornerstone of practical achievement. Participants have mastered the art of cutting fabric, sewing without errors, and even using a sewing machine with proficiency. This skill set has already enabled some to start their own small businesses, sewing dresses for others, and thus contributing to their families’ incomes. The sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from creating something with one’s own hands cannot be understated; it’s a powerful testament to their growth and independence.

The Power of Literacy

Beyond the threads and needles, the program has opened the doors to literacy for these women. Starting from the basics of the Faris alphabet to simple mathematics, they have embarked on a journey of discovery. Being able to read signs, write their names, and engage with the world through written words is a newfound freedom. It’s a tool that not only empowers them in their daily lives but also lays the foundation for lifelong learning and curiosity.

A New Horizon

The transformation witnessed over the first 15 weeks of the Threads of Hope program is profound. Women, who once saw themselves as confined to the roles of housewives, now stand as beacons of change and empowerment within their communities. Their journeys from uncertainty to confidence, from ignorance to awareness, and from dependency to self-reliance are inspiring.

At the completion of this program, each woman will be gifted a sewing machine, a symbol of their journey, and a tool for their future. Yet, the true gift they receive is immeasurable: education, empowerment, and a sense of purpose. These are the threads that will continue to weave through their lives, their families, and their communities, bringing hope and change to the fabric of society.

Threads of Hope is more than a program; it’s a movement. It’s a testament to the power of education and empowerment, proving that with the right support, women can overcome barriers and redefine their destinies. The journey of these women in Kabul is just the beginning. The hope, skills, and confidence they’ve gained will ripple through generations, weaving a brighter future for all.

Interested to learn more?

Register for the FREE International Women’s Day Zoom Round Table to hear from Threads of Hope Program Manager, Maryam.

Blog News

Breaking News: Women Allowed Limited Medical School Enrollment

In the ever-evolving landscape of women’s education in Afghanistan, recent developments have stirred a mix of hope and reflection within our mission at Sahar Education. The recent announcement of the Taliban permitting female enrollment in state-run medical institutes marks a significant milestone in the journey toward gender equality in education. As advocates, we find ourselves at a critical juncture, where progress intersects with ongoing challenges.

The Taliban have reportedly allowed female high school graduates in Afghanistan to enroll in state-run medical institutes for the new academic year that begins in March.

VOA News: Taliban Allow Female Enrollment in State-Run Medical Institutes

However, only 9 provinces have been included in the order including Kapisa, Parwan, Panjshir, Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Paktika, Logar, Khost, and Paktia.

It is not clear whether the initiative will cover the remaining 22 provinces.

According to the news agency, the Taliban Ministry of Public Health has sent a letter to the Directorates of Public Health in the mentioned provinces, instructing them to start the process of recruiting 12th-grade female graduates to health institutes.

Kabul Now: Taliban Open Medical Institutes to Women Amidst Continued Restrictions

Reports from Kabul Now and VOA News shed light on this pivotal moment. The decision to open doors for women in medical studies comes as a result of persistent pressure from both domestic and international rights groups.

The UN has consistently warned about Afghanistan’s shortage of qualified health workers, especially females.

Kate Pond, a spokesperson for UNICEF, said, “there is a shortage of qualified health workers in Afghanistan overall, and women in particular,” noting that some people travel long distances for healthcare services.

Kabul Now: Taliban Open Medical Institutes to Women Amidst Continued Restrictions

This development is not merely a policy shift but a testament to the resilience and determination of Afghan women to pursue education despite adversity.

However, as we celebrate this step forward, we must confront the stark realities that persist. An article from The Associated Press serves as a poignant reminder of the obstacles still faced by Afghan girls. The closure of high schools for girls under Taliban rule highlights the urgency of our work in providing alternative avenues for education and empowerment. Due to the closure, there have been no new graduates since 2021 and Afghanistan runs the risk of having no students qualified to enter these programs in future years if high school is not reinstated.

A woman’s education can also determine if her children have basic immunization and if her daughters are married by the age of 18. The lack of women’s education is among the major drivers of deprivation, says the U.N.

Aid groups say girls are at increased risk of child labor and child marriage because they’re not at school, amid the growing hardships faced by families.

AP NEWS: 2 years ago, the Taliban banned girls from school. It’s a worsening crisis for all Afghans

At Sahar Education, we are committed to providing underground classes in essential subjects such as computer skills, coding, and English. These initiatives serve as beacons of hope, offering Afghan women the tools to carve out brighter futures for themselves and their communities.

The recent developments regarding women’s education in Afghanistan underscore the importance of our mission. They remind us that while progress is being made, much work still needs to be done. Our resolve to empower Afghan women through education has never been stronger.

As we navigate the complexities of this moment, let us draw inspiration from the resilience of Afghan women. Together, we can continue to break down barriers and build a future where every woman has the opportunity to thrive.

Want to support the continued resilience of Afghan women and girls? Join Sahar Education for a free Zoom Round Table event on March 7th.

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International Women’s Day Virtual Round Table with Sahar Education

In honor of International Women’s Day, join Sahar Education on March 7th at 6 pm PST to learn how you can make a difference to Afghan women who are resisting the gender apartheid in their country.

No woman is truly free until we are all free. The women of Afghanistan are suffering under the oppressive rule of the Taliban but it is within our ability to empower and support them in their fight for equality!

Hear from a past student on the effectiveness of underground schools, learn about Sahar’s programs from Shogofa Amini, Program Manager, and understand how our efforts are making a difference for Afghan women.

Register free today and enter to win 4 Main Level or Club Terrace tickets to 2024 Mariner’s home games.

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