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.
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This week, as we observe Children’s Mental Health Week, it’s crucial to shed light on an ongoing crisis that continues to undermine the mental well-being of Afghan children, particularly girls. The Taliban’s stringent policies, including the prohibition of education for girls beyond the sixth grade, are not just a denial of fundamental rights but also a significant source of psychological distress and mental health issues among Afghan children.
In light of the current educational and societal climate in Afghanistan, the statistics offer a stark insight into the challenges faced by Afghan girls and women following the Taliban’s educational restrictions. Since the Taliban’s edict in September 2021, the education of girls over the age of 12 has been indefinitely halted, resulting in 1.1 million girls and young women being deprived of access to formal education. This ban has escalated to the point where currently, an estimated 80% of school-aged Afghan girls and young women, amounting to 2.5 million individuals, are out of school. Alarmingly, nearly 30% of Afghan girls have never had the opportunity to enter primary education. The situation worsened with the suspension of university education for women in December 2022, affecting over 100,000 female students across both government and private higher education institutions. Source: Unesco
The repercussions of these bans are not confined to education alone but extend into the broader societal and economic realms. The prohibition on women’s education is exacerbating a crisis for all Afghans, leading to job losses among tens of thousands of teachers and support staff, and impacting private institutions and businesses financially dependent on girls’ education. Afghanistan’s economy, already in a fragile state, is further strained as women are excluded from the job market, potentially costing the country billions of dollars in GDP. Moreover, the prioritization of Islamic knowledge over basic literacy and numeracy is paving the way for a generation devoid of contemporary or secular education, which is crucial for economic advancement. Source: CTV News
Before these suspensions, Afghanistan had seen a significant increase in the enrolment of girls and women in education. Between 2001 and 2018, the number of girls in primary school surged from almost zero to 2.5 million, and by August 2021, girls constituted 40% of primary education students. The presence of women in Afghan higher education had increased almost twentyfold, from 5,000 in 2001 to over 100,000 in 2021, with literacy rates for women doubling during this period. Source: Unesco
The return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan has seen the reinstatement of severe restrictions on women’s and girls’ rights, including access to education. According to a report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Taliban has effectively barred girls from attending school beyond the sixth grade. This policy not only curtails their right to education but also isolates them from their peers and the broader social environment, which is essential for their cognitive and emotional development.
The impact of these restrictions extends beyond the realm of education. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has emphasized that quality education must be equally accessible to all, as it is a cornerstone of societal advancement and individual well-being. The denial of education to Afghan girls not only breaches their human rights but also contributes to a broader climate of gender discrimination and social injustice. Such an environment fosters feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, and depression among girls, who are forced to accept a future devoid of the opportunities that education provides.
These statistics highlight the dire consequences of the Taliban’s educational restrictions on Afghan women and girls, underscoring the urgency of international support and intervention to restore their right to education and contribute to Afghanistan’s development.
Moreover, the psychological impact on children witnessing the suppression of their mothers, sisters, and friends cannot be understated. The collective trauma experienced by a generation growing up under such oppression is likely to have long-lasting effects on their mental health. The sense of powerlessness and the internalization of gender-based discrimination can contribute to a range of mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression.
During Children’s Mental Health Week, it’s essential to recognize the unique challenges faced by Afghan children, especially girls, and advocate for their rights to education and mental health support. Education is not just about acquiring knowledge; it’s about building confidence, fostering resilience, and nurturing the social skills necessary for a healthy mental state. Denying Afghan girls access to education not only hampers their personal development but also perpetuates a cycle of mental health issues that could hinder the progress of an entire society.
Sahar Education, in its commitment to the empowerment of Afghan girls and women, has developed a comprehensive suite of programs that go beyond traditional education. Understanding the multifaceted challenges faced by women and girls in Afghanistan, Sahar’s programs are designed to provide them with the tools and knowledge necessary for personal empowerment, mental well-being, and societal change. Our curricula encompass a wide range of topics critical to women’s empowerment, including mental health awareness, coping skills, leadership development, conflict resolution, child marriage prevention, and women’s health and reproduction. These subjects, often considered taboo and not covered in the Afghan school system, are vital for the holistic development of the girls and women we serve.
The workshops and courses offered by Sahar Education serve as a safe space for participants to discuss and learn about sensitive topics openly. Feedback from the girls involved in our programs consistently highlights the immense value they find in these workshops. By addressing issues directly affecting them and their communities, Sahar helps to foster a supportive environment where girls can build confidence, resilience, and a sense of agency. The discussions on difficult subjects not only equip them with critical life skills but also strengthen the communities within the Sahar courses. This approach ensures that the benefits of our programs extend beyond the individual participants, contributing to the broader goal of societal transformation and gender equality in Afghanistan.
This Children’s Mental Health Week, let us renew our commitment to fighting for the rights and well-being of children worldwide, starting with the urgent need to support Afghan girls’ right to education. Through education and empowerment, we can combat the mental health crisis and pave the way for a brighter, more equitable future for all.
February marks the end of the winter break for many Afghan schools. This is also an important month for the mission of Sahar. Several of our programs run around school schedules and this month will see the return of our Stealth Sisters, Underground TechSheroes, and Men as Partners in Change to their classrooms.
But for many others in Afghanistan, the return to school is a harsh reminder that they have been left out. Sahar receives almost daily pleas from women and girls through email and social media, asking to be enrolled in our programs. We are working hard to expand our programs and bring hope to more of these desperate girls.
You can learn more about the students in our programs by visiting our updated website or reading our 2023 Impact Report.
90 Students enroll in Underground TechSheroes second round!
Today marked the beginning of the second round of Underground TechSheroes in Afghanistan! 60 students began the IT course and another 30 embarked on Coding.
This program is open to students from 15 to 20 years old who are banned from formal education under the current regime. Past students have graduated with the skills and confidence necessary to pursue employment in medical offices, become freelancers, and enroll in online courses.
This program is made possible not only by your support but also by the bravery of the teachers who hold these programs in secret locations for our students. Despite the heightened risk for the girls and the team with recent reports of the Taliban arresting women for going against their policies, they are committed to the success of these programs.
The new year brings new opportunities to change the lives of Afghan girls.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
This yearly celebration of the contributions of women in the sciences is a reminder to all girls and women that their dreams are possible. Consider donating in the name of your support for women in STEM on February 11th, 2024.
Quarterly Zoom Round Table
Join Sahar Education on March 7th, 2024 to learn how underground education is changing lives this year! Register today!
Get to Know Afghanistan
Eager to understand Afghan culture further in this time of crisis for the people of this embattled country?
“I first read A Thousand Splendid Suns just after the return of the Taliban in 2021 when Afghanistan dominated headlines around the world. If we need any reminder of why we should stand in solidarity with Afghan women now more than ever, this book is surely it. It’s a really intense story of a world we all hoped was far behind us – and yet it’s more relevant than ever to understand the lives of women under the Taliban.”
There are many ways to support the women and girls of Afghanistan. We encourage you to immerse yourself in artwork, books, and interviews about the country.
To get updates every month from Sahar, sign up for our newsletter below.
If you joined us last night, we hope you enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about our programs and mission and we welcome you to get involved in education for Afghan girls! We recorded the event for anyone who wasn’t able to join us last night and you can find the video below.
Your dedication to the cause is greatly appreciated as we continue to fight for girls’ education in Afghanistan!
Many of you asked how you can get involved and we are happy that you want to take a stand for women! Below are some important ways you can make a difference for Afghan women and girls.
You can find resources to support Afghan people in this time of crisis on our website. You can also sign up for our newsletter and follow our social media presence via the website. Sharing and commenting/liking our social posts is a free and easy way to raise awareness.
If you are interested in using your skills or connections to help Sahar Education you can volunteer or apply to join the Board of Directors. Email [email protected] to learn about these opportunities.
There are millions of girls out of school due to the Taliban’s ban on secondary education and we cannot serve them all. However, our programs create a ripple effect that changes lives and communities! Your financial support can ensure these programs continue as long as they are needed. There are multiple ways to donate.
Give with matching through GlobalGiving through January 1st! All donations (up to $1000 per donor) to the two projects listed here will receive 50% matching through the Safer World Fund. Monthly donations are also eligible for additional matching!
November is a time for thanks, so thank you for supporting girls’ education!
Last month, your support made a difference in the lives of Afghan girls! Thank you to all who donated, attended, and sponsored the annual benefit, A Night In Afghanistan. The event was a success with a packed crowd, delicious food, and raising more than twice our goal!
With your generous help, we exceeded our goal of $20,000; raising $45571.77! We appreciate your fundraising efforts and recognize that we could not have reached our goal without the unwavering support of our board, friends, and you. The amount raised is enough to educate 15 girls across 12 months.
The funds raised will go to help expand the Stealth Sisters and Underground TechSheroes program, including adding a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer to the team.
Men As Partners In Change
On Sep 17, 2023, the MPC and English Language course began for 45 school students in grades 9 to 12. Students in this program are learning English language skills alongside topics important to the success of the community and families. In September, the MPC students learned about Fatherhood and Caregiving.
The first month of classes delved into important topics that are central to the program.
To highlight the importance of fathers’ role in caregiving,
To take part actively as a future father in children caregiving,
To identify fathers’ responsibilities not only outside the house but inside as well,
Promote gender equality among children,
Share parenting responsibilities between mothers and fathers,
To enhance family dynamics,
Improve children’s development by involving fathers in their life and caregiving.
A few quotes from students of the course help us understand how this program is opening their eyes to the flaws in the current system.
Mohammad R., one of the 10th-grade students said, “Before, I believed that the core responsibility of a father is supporting his family financially.” He added, “Now, I realize that it is not only restricted to the father of a family but mothers also can work and support their families financially.”
Mohammad H., one of the 12th grade students said, “Since I know myself, I was told that mothers should take care of their children, cook and clean. No one told me that fathers also can take part in cleaning the house, cooking, and taking care of their children.” He added more, “Now I can imagine how it will be more beautiful if both mothers and fathers share their responsibilities in the house.”
As the year comes to a close, there are still opportunities to support Afghan girls!
SAFER WORLD FUND MATCHING CAMPAIGN 2023
This campaign through Global Giving continues through January 1st, 2024, and provides 50% matching for donations up to $1000 to the Stealth Sisters or Underground TechSheroes programs! Donate Today!
Zoom Round Table with the Team
Sahar Education is excited to share another opportunity for supporters from across the globe to join a Zoom Round Table and learn more about our programs, challenges, and opportunities to help. Join us on November 21, 2023, for a 1-hour Zoom session! Register Today!
Donations up to $2500 through Global Giving on November 28th are eligible for incentive funds! All donations will be eligible for additional support with the most released to the largest fundraisers!
This December bid on donated treasures, event tickets, and delicious restaurant meals in support of Sahar Education! Watch out for the link to bid!
Get to Know Afghanistan
The Afghan people celebrate the victories of their Cricket team as one of the only bits of happiness they can share as a community. The New York Times reported on the unlikely heroes of the Afghan people.
“The national flag they play under no longer exists officially. The anthem they stand for at the beginning of every game belongs to a republic that was toppled two years ago.
Yet Afghanistan’s athletes have become the unlikely — and widely celebrated — heroes of the Cricket World Cup that is underway in India. In a tournament followed by hundreds of millions of people across the globe, they have defeated the defending world champions and two former titleholders handily. Some of the team’s stars are so popular that entire stadium sections roar their name.” The article reports that the wild popularity of the team was unprecedented.
Refugees and stranded Afghan students support the team from the stands, flying the flag that represents their home country.
The article shares insights from the players and another reason why they are seen as the hope of Afghanistan in this trying time. Players speak out against the education ban and support earthquake relief for their countrymen.
“We stand in solidarity with our sisters and daughters of Afghanistan in demanding that the decision on high school ban for girls and university ban for women be reversed,” Mr. Khan said in a statement last year. “Every day of education wasted is a day wasted from the future of the country.”
“When the team defeated Pakistan two weeks ago, the celebrations were particularly long and loud. There was also a political undertone: In recent weeks, tens of thousands of Afghan refugees have been forced out by Pakistan, whose military has long been seen as contributing to the instability in Afghanistan.”
As noted by the article and the players, the team is helping Afghans to have pride in something and to smile and celebrate when all else is bleak at home. The Taliban has outlawed dancing and the black, red, and green flag is no longer the symbol of the country but this is overlooked as supporters dance in the streets after the team wins. A brief respite from the harsh conditions the entire country is under is needed for hope to continue to blossom.
October is an exciting month for Sahar Education and you can be a part of the progress we are making to improve the lives of girls and their communities in Afghanistan!
This month, the Men as Partners in Change program began its second round! This revolutionary approach to educating men to be advocates for gender equality. Graduates of this program will understand why women’s rights are integral to the recovery of their communities and how to be advocates for change.
The program began with 2 classes of 20 high school boys who are eager to learn how they can contribute to healthy and thriving communities. Sahar has planned 3 rounds over a year which will serve and educate 120 students.
Join Sahar Education at Structure Cellars in Seattle, WA to celebrate the ongoing success of programs that educate and empower girls in Afghanistan. With the Taliban takeover in 2021, many nonprofits left the region or shifted their focus to men and younger children. Sahar chose another path. They doubled down on educating and empowering girls and women, providing secret courses for those who refuse to accept the Taliban’s orders.
Girls in Sahar programs learn English, IT, Coding, and women’s empowerment, and gain the confidence to stand up for their beliefs. This October 25th, you can join Sahar in celebrating the resilience of Afghan women at the A Night In Afghanistan benefit for Sahar Education.
The benefit is a 2-hour event with Afghan food, music, tea, henna, and inspirational speakers. An auction will be held featuring Afghan textiles, art, and local specialties. Hear from Executive Director, Meetra Alokozay, Award Winning Women’s Rights activist, Shogofa Amini, and keynote speaker, Shkula Zadran, former Afghan Youth Representative to the United Nations. The evening promises to educate and wow attendees who can enjoy a cultural celebration while supporting the bravery and resilience of Afghan girls. Catering is provided by Afghan Hawasana Catering.
100% of the $100 min donation during the event supports life-changing programs for Afghan women. Donations over $250 receive 100% matching from a generous sponsor.
Safer World Fund Matching Campaign with Global Giving
September 11th through January 1st, 2024
Donate to Sahar Education in September through the Safer World Campaign and your contribution will go 50% further! Donations up to $1000 per individual will be matched through January 1st, 2024.
To participate in this campaign, bookmark one of the two listed projects today!
Over $40,000 in matching funds are available for projects included in the Safer World Fund this year! Sahar is one of 9 organizations selected to fundraise during this campaign.
184 Girls Study IT & Coding
Students like Yalda have learned vital computer skills in the Underground TechSheroes program and built confidence in themselves that can never be taken away.
“My awareness increased. Before, my level of awareness was low. In the women’s health program, I learned things that I had never heard of before. Before, I could not speak in front of many people in a group, but here I can speak very easily or give a seminar and easily say what I want to say in front of many people. Every day that I participated in this program, my courage increased. Overall, this program was very good for me. I was depressed before I came here. I am not used to staying at home. Because I went to school and courses every day. I felt very bad when all the places were closed for us girls. This course gave me hope. I participated in the women’s health and empowerment workshop; I was inspired and it was pleasant for me. I learned that I should be a strong woman. Thanks to those who launched this program. I hope that this program will continue for other Afghan girls.”
Donate now, through GlobalGiving, and your donation will qualify for 50% matching! Help Sahar reach even more girls!
Get to Know Afghanistan
Artlords is known for evocative murals on blast walls throughout Kabul. However, since the Taliban took over Afghanistan 2 years ago, they are no longer creating art and changing minds inside the country. Instead, they are working to spread awareness around the world of the struggles of the Afghan people.
ArtLords is to promote the message of peace in Afghanistan through the expressivity of the arts and culture. It wished to portray a visual representation of the communities’ desire to move from war towards peace. Creating a relationship between people and art, by bringing art to the people, allows for a much-needed psychological shift that opens up people’s minds to new prospects. The use of art opens up space for ‘emotions without affiliation’. It stimulates critical thought and helps people understand that war is a commonly shared experience and that only a common effort, coming from within society, can bring about peace in Afghanistan, South Asia, and the Middle East.
Earlier this year, Artlords were featured at Jashin: A Celebration of Afghan Arts by the Seattle Opera. Now, they are sponsoring Sahar with a generous donation of artwork previously displayed in the Kabul gallery to be auctioned during the A Night In Afghanistan Benefit.