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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.

Sponsored By

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2023 Impact Report

“In the wake of unprecedented challenges and transformative shifts in Afghanistan’s socio-political landscape, Sahar Education emerges as a beacon of hope and resilience. As we navigate the complexities of a post-2021 era marked by the Taliban’s takeover, Sahar Education steadfastly continues its mission to empower women and girls through education.

This Impact Report for 2023 unveils the organization’s unwavering commitment to providing underground education, demonstrating the indomitable spirit that has defined Sahar’s journey since its inception in 2009.

Before the Taliban’s resurgence, Sahar Education was at the forefront of positive change in Afghanistan. From constructing schools for girls to operating teacher training centers and offering women’s empowerment classes, the organization played a pivotal role in shaping a brighter future for Afghan women and girls. The abrupt shift in the country’s dynamics necessitated a strategic pivot, leading Sahar to adapt its approach while staying true to its core values.”

Read more in the full report!

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Sahar Education Featured in The Seattle Times

Seattle group launches secret schools for Afghan girls under Taliban rule by Nina Shapiro shared our story with the Greater Seattle area and the world on December 25th, 2023.

When the Taliban reclaimed Afghanistan in 2021, Seattle-based Sahar found its mission completely undermined.

For almost 20 years, the nonprofit had worked to educate Afghan girls, denied education under the first Taliban regime in the 1990s. Sahar repaired schools and built new ones, which it turned over to Afghanistan’s education ministry to run.

The organization’s showcase was a school for 3,000 girls in northern Afghanistan, designed by the prestigious Seattle firm Miller Hull in collaboration with the University of Washington’s architecture department. The nonprofit had also broken ground on what was to be the country’s first public boarding school, also designed by Miller Hull and intended for rural girls who had to walk miles to school — risking kidnapping and attacks as Taliban traditionalists waged their insurgency.

Then, the insurgents took power.

Nina Shapiro, The Seattle Times

Read the full article on the Seattle Times website.

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End-of-Year Auction

Thank you for your generous support of Sahar Education as we continue to evolve in pursuit of our mission. I am writing you to invite you to join our online auction now through December 15th! There are a few items that arrived too late for our A Night In Afghanistan event and a couple of new offerings as well. All proceeds go to further our education programs for Afghan girls. 

If you’re interested to see the auction items you can find them on the bidding website here: https://www.32auctions.com/End-Of-Year2023

Please note, bids are placed through the website but there is no credit card required to bid. Winners will have the option to pay by check or card via Sahar’s regular donation methods. Just ensure to input an email address when you bid so we can reach you if you win. Good luck!


This auction is sponsored by: The Seattle Mariners, Kabul Afghan Cuisine, and Remote Unicorn Consulting.

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Juneau World Affairs Council Welcomes Shogofa Amini

On September 14th, 2023, Sahar Program Manager, Shogofa Amini shared her story and the story of Afghanistan with the Juneau World Affairs Council.

Shogofa spent 5 years of her childhood learning in a secret school organized and taught by her mother, a former principal. She understood from a very young age the power of education. Although there were great risks from the Taliban for learning and teaching, her parents understood those risks must be taken for the future of their children.

Imagine sending your daughters to learn English knowing they may be beaten or killed if discovered. It is a harsh reality that many Americans cannot fathom. However, it is once again the daily experience of the Afghan people.

Shogofa shared how a love and respect for education led her to the United States, completing a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree and how she came to work with Sahar. It was her dream to return to Afghanistan and help women and girls achieve their dreams, however, the resurgence of the Taliban has made that impossible at this time. That blockade has not stopped Shogofa, who has helped Sahar invest in secret education courses since August 2021.

Sahar Education continues to provide hope for Afghan girls under the repressive regime of the Taliban with the constant support of Shogofa. Her dedication to the programs is apparent as she shares the experiences of the students she personally interviews.

Watch Shogofa’s presentation at the Juneau World Affairs Council.

Do you want to help young girls with a passion for learning? Donate today to Sahar Education via GlobalGiving and our programs receive 50% more for every $1000!

You can change the life of an Afghan girl and her community by supporting Stealth Sisters and Underground TechSheroes. 

Donate today through GlobalGiving and your contribution will go 50% further with matching from the Safer World Fund through January 1st, 2024 (or until matching funds last). 

Help Sahar Education reach the goal of $10,000 through this program, sponsoring 6 girls for the 6-month Stealth Sisters course!

Join Sahar on October 25th to celebrate the resilience of Afghan women while supporting our programs!

A Night In Afghanistan will feature Afghan food, music, and traditional clothing. Join us to learn about the rich culture of Afghanistan before the Taliban and the current conditions under which brave students continue to fight for their right to education. 

Sahar has been providing educational opportunities in Afghanistan for over 20 years. Although many organizations stopped serving women once the Taliban took over, Sahar shifted to a secret school model that continues to educate women and girls against Taliban restrictions. 

Join us at Structure Cellars on October 25th to hear from Program Manager, Shogofa Amini, and Executive Director, Meetra Alokozay. Also hear from the former Afghan Youth Representative to the United Nations, Shkula Zadran, about the current situation in Afghanistan and why educating women is so vital to the recovery of the country and its people. 

Virtual registration is also available for those who would like to join us from outside Seattle.

Buy tickets today!

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July Bonus Day

Donate NOW to make a difference in the lives of Afghan girls!

Donate through GlobalGiving for maximum impact before funds run out!

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Sahar Named Afghan Women & Girls Education NPO of the Year

In 2023, we have continued to put women and girls first, expanding programs despite strict bans by the Taliban. Our Stealth Sisters, Underground TechSheroes, and Threads of Change programs are currently helping Afghan girls seek a future of opportunities, not oppression.

We are focused on continuing to partner with local organizations to directly impact the lives of Afghan girls and thank all of our supporters for making our work possible! 

If you’d like to learn more about Sahar’s 2023 programs, please register for our July 10th virtual info session! This 1-hour Zoom session will allow new and old friends to learn more about our mission and how we are defying the Taliban in 2023! 

Sahar Education named NPO of the Year for Afghan Women & Girls Education!
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Take Action this World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day serves as a powerful reminder of the struggles faced by millions of displaced individuals around the world. This year, as we commemorate this important day, we want to highlight the urgent need for support and solidarity with Afghan refugees. Sahar Education is calling upon our dedicated supporters to rally behind the Afghan Adjustment Act (S.4787) and advocate for its passage. Let us explore the significance of this legislation and how it can positively impact the lives of Afghan refugees.

The Afghan Adjustment Act: An Opportunity for Hope

The Afghan Adjustment Act (S.4787) is a crucial piece of legislation that aims to provide a pathway to permanent residency for Afghan nationals who have been forced to flee their homeland due to conflict, violence, and persecution. This act acknowledges the dire circumstances faced by Afghan refugees and seeks to offer them the opportunity to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.

Supporting the Afghan Adjustment Act: Why it Matters

Providing Safety and Stability: The Afghan Adjustment Act offers a lifeline to Afghan refugees by granting them lawful permanent resident status. This vital provision ensures their safety and protection, allowing them to rebuild their lives without fear of deportation to a volatile and dangerous environment.

Fostering Integration and Rebuilding: By offering Afghan refugees the opportunity to become permanent residents, the act enables them to fully integrate into their host communities. Access to employment, education, and social services empowers refugees to contribute to their new societies and rebuild their lives with a sense of stability and dignity.

Recognizing Contributions and Shared Values: Afghan refugees bring a wealth of knowledge, skills, and cultural diversity to their host countries. By advocating for the Afghan Adjustment Act, we affirm the valuable contributions made by Afghan refugees and recognize the shared values of compassion, tolerance, and inclusivity that underpin our communities.

Taking Action: How Sahar Education Supporters Can Make a Difference

Contact Your Representatives: Reach out to your elected officials and express your support for the Afghan Adjustment Act (S.4787). Urge them to co-sponsor the bill and push for its passage. Let them know that as a Sahar Education supporter, you believe in providing a safe and stable future for Afghan refugees.

Raise Awareness: Utilize the power of social media, community events, and local networks to raise awareness about the Afghan Adjustment Act. Share stories and testimonies of Afghan refugees, highlighting the challenges they face and the opportunities the act can provide.

Collaborate with Advocacy Groups: Join forces with organizations and advocacy groups working towards refugee rights. Together, we can amplify our voices, create a stronger impact, and push for positive change.

Support Sahar Education’s Efforts: Sahar Education is committed to empowering Afghan girls and women through education. By supporting our programs, you directly contribute to the resilience and future prospects of Afghan refugees. Your donations and involvement make a tangible difference in the lives of those affected.

Read more about the Afghan Adjustment Act

On this World Refugee Day, let us stand together and advocate for the Afghan Adjustment Act (S.4787). By supporting this legislation, we have the power to provide Afghan refugees with hope, stability, and the opportunity to rebuild their lives. Together, as Sahar Education supporters, we can make a lasting impact and demonstrate our unwavering commitment to the rights and well-being of refugees worldwide. Let us seize this moment to foster compassion, unity, and justice for all.

🔔Follow Sahar for future updates! 

♥️ Support Education for Afghan Girls! 

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Seeking Board Members

Sahar Education is actively seeking experienced, passionate, and diverse board members to help guide the organization as it grows. 

OUR MISSION 

“Sahar partners with grassroots, Afghan-based organizations to create educational opportunities and safe learning spaces for girls and women in Afghanistan, empowering and inspiring children and their families to build peaceful, thriving communities.”

After the Taliban banned formal education for girls above 6th grade, Sahar is finding innovative ways to promote girls’ access to education in Afghanistan. It is now more important than ever to show up for girls’ education in Afghanistan in any capacity possible.

ABOUT SAHAR EDUCATION 

Sahar began as Journey with an Afghan School, a group founded to build bridges of understanding between the U.S. and Afghanistan for peace and cooperation in 2001. Since then, Sahar has expanded: building schools, and computer centers, and managing teacher training programs in Northern Afghanistan. Sahar became a stand-alone non-profit in 2009 in order to expand and continue our efforts. Sahar has worked in this war zone for nearly two decades to increase the status of girls and women in Afghanistan through education, enabling them to participate actively in the social, political, and economic arenas in their communities.

Sahar approaches girls’ education from multiple levels because we know that it takes a holistic approach to create real change. We work with partners in the U.S. and on the ground in Afghanistan to create safe learning spaces and, deliver educational and vocational training programs, and women empowerment and health workshops. These projects bolster local economies and strengthen communities, as well as fortify bonds between Afghanistan and the West.

Sahar serves girls in Tajik, Pashtun, Hazara, and Uzbek communities – rural as well as in the urban environment of Mazar-i-Sharif, and Kabul. With formal secondary education banned for girls in Afghanistan, we are partnering with local schools and organizations to provide underground coding and English, IT, and Women Empowerment courses. These innovative courses are led by locals and supported by training and funding from Sahar.

OUR COMMITMENT 

Sahar follows a disciplined and careful process focused on lasting change in the region. Our projects always address a clear educational need, have the support of local communities, and are implemented by an Afghan workforce.  

OUR PROGRAMS 

Sahar helps thousands of Afghan girls get into school and stay in school. Our programs provide: 

 • Access to education 

• Digital literacy 

• Teacher training 

• Early marriage prevention education 

SAHAR BOARD: AN OPPORTUNITY TO JOIN A VIBRANT INTERNATIONAL TEAM 

Sahar Board Members will have the privilege of working collaboratively with our US and Afghan team, creating programs and building schools that genuinely change lives. The board provides strategic direction and oversight to our well-established non-profit, ensuring we are the best stewards possible for our supporters and the people of Afghanistan.  

SAHAR EDUCATION NEEDS YOU IF… 

• You are passionate about access to education. 

• You are excited about creating opportunities for girls, women, and families in Afghanistan. 

• You communicate well and can build awareness of Sahar and expand our connections to grow our organization’s awareness and support. 

• You want to be a part of a dynamic board and have the time and energy to spend 5-8 hours a month doing board work: attending board meetings, participating in committee work, and being an ambassador for Sahar in your community.  

• You want to build partnerships for Sahar to expand its local and global network. 

WE ARE ESPECIALLY INTERESTED IN TALKING TO YOU IF… 

• You have prior non-profit board experience and are ready to bring your experience and insight to another organization. 

• You are an experienced fundraiser and enthusiastic about sharing your skills. 

• You have a personal connection to Afghanistan. 

• You have experience in finance and/or accounting.

INTERESTED IN JOINING US? 

Sahar is seeking to bring on new board members to serve three-year terms beginning June 2023. Please email [email protected] with any questions and to receive the short online application. Interested candidates must complete an application by June 30th, and will be interviewed by our recruiting team. 

Get PDF announcement

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Panel Discussion: New Academic Year Under the Taliban rule: Millions of Girls Out of School

March 21st marked the start of a new academic year in Afghanistan. The Taliban have yet again, kept millions of girls out of school. Sahar Education is hosting an informative panel discussion on April 19th at 5:30 PM PST, to shed light on another academic year with no girls in secondary and higher education.

Join us by registering through this link , and be a part of the conversation on how we can break down these barriers and empower girls to pursue their dreams.

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Welcome to our new Executive Director

After an extensive search, the Board is thrilled that Meetra Alokozay will join us as Executive Director on March 14th.  As a passionate advocate for social justice and gender equality, Meetra has worked with non-profit organizations, focusing on youth and women empowerment through education in Afghanistan and in the United States.  Her experiences with diverse communities have enabled Meetra to build a rapport with a number of grassroot organizations. Meetra will take advantage of her network in the education arena in Afghanistan to lead Sahar’s next chapter.

“Having lived and worked in Afghanistan for most of my life, I recognize the importance of the work Sahar is doing in helping improve girls’ lives in Afghanistan. My lived experiences as an Afghan woman, and background with American Councils for International Education in Afghanistan has led to an in-depth understanding of the educational needs of Afghan women and girls and the social and cultural barriers around it.” –Meetra Alokozay

Meetra earned her master’s degree in Women’s Studies and Gender Studies from Loyola University Chicago through the Fulbright program in May 2020. She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Administration with a minor in Law from the American University of Afghanistan.

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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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The Taliban’s War on Minds: How the Education Ban Harms Afghan Children’s Mental Health

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.

Take a stand and sponsor a girl today!

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February 2024 Updates

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.

Program Updates

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.

Change a life today!

Upcoming Events

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!

Join us on March 7th for the first virtual round table of 2024

Get to Know Afghanistan

Eager to understand Afghan culture further in this time of crisis for the people of this embattled country?

Read A Thousand Splendid Suns, recently recommended by Dua Lipa

A Thousand Splendid Suns

“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.

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Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Hunger is skyrocketing in Afghanistan and children are suffering. Many families make hard decisions to sell their daughters into forced marriage as early as 6 years old. This practice has skyrocketed since schools were closed with no prospect of daughters bringing in money and helping support their families any other way. (Source: Washington Post In the new Afghanistan, it’s sell your daughter or starve)

Across Afghanistan, child marriages have skyrocketed, and not only because of economic collapse. Families once hoped that their daughters, when educated, might find good work and contribute to the family income. Today, under the Taliban’s ever-increasing restrictions, school is prohibited for girls after the sixth grade, and work options for women are few. Sequestered at home, a girl becomes just another mouth to feed. But as a bride, she’s a valuable commodity. A $2,000 bride price is enough to feed a family for a year. For the girls, of course, this is a nightmare. 

Stephanie Sinclair, Founder – Too Young to Wed

A child bride is sold for around $2,000. They are subjected to abuses most of us dare not imagine. And it is preventable.

Girls and women who participate in underground schools come away with the skills and determination to start home businesses, freelance, and teach their own schools, bringing income without being sold. These programs are a gateway to freedom for so many.

In December, CNN reported that suicides and depression are rising in Afghanistan among girls and women. Women’s Empowerment courses in Sahar programs tackle the stigma and hardship of depression and give girls support and hope where many are without.

Experts say reliable statistics on suicide and suicide attempts aren’t compiled in Afghanistan, but rights groups and doctors say they’ve seen an increase under Taliban rule.

Dr. Shikib Ahmadi has been working six days a week and longer hours than ever, seeing patients at a mental health clinic in Afghanistan’s western Herat province. He’s using a pseudonym because he fears the Taliban will punish him for speaking to foreign media.

Ahmadi said the number of female patients at his clinic has surged 40% to 50% since the Taliban’s takeover two years ago. Around 10% of those patients kill themselves, he said.

Oppressed by the Taliban, she swallowed acid. Now her siblings are trying to save her life, CNN

Early marriage prevention has long been a topic of Sahar programs and we continue to tackle this sensitive topic in our underground courses, including the Men as Partners in Change program. Educating men and women on the dangers of early marriage is an important step in prevention.

In many countries, marriage before the age of 18 is a reality for girls due to the interaction of several factors that place a girl at risk, including poverty, social norms, customary or religious laws that condone the practice, an inadequate legislative framework and the state of a country’s civil registration system. Child marriage often compromises a girl’s development by resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupting her schooling, and limiting her opportunities for career and vocational advancement. It also often involves a substantial age difference between the girl and her partner, thus further disempowering her and putting her at greater risk of partner violence, sexually transmitted diseases and lack of agency.

The Afghanistan MICS 2022-23

Forced and child marriage is human trafficking and it’s becoming more common in Afghanistan due, in part, to strict bans on secondary education and restrictions on employment for women and girls. Underground schools give an avenue to these families, a route to take that doesn’t involve selling their daughters to the highest bidder.

This January, take a stand against human trafficking.

Sponsor a girl in underground schools or sponsor a woman who wants to support her family, we can’t change lives without you.

You can change the life of a girl and her community.

Donate Today