Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
Our Story Why We Exist
“My name is Ziba. I am 50 years old and one of the literacy students in Mirjikhil literacy class. I participated in the life skills workshop conducted by Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.
I learned many things from this workshop that were new for me… like what a complete meal is and a healthy diet, how to wash my hands and teeth properly to remove germs and bacteria, and the difference between transferable and nontransferable diseases and how to protect myself and my family.
Honestly, now I am feeling healthier than ever before and it gives me a nice feeling to help others in my family as well as use my time in a more effective way.
We are living in a village where most of us were illiterate and uneducated. We haven’t been out of our village and didn’t have access to any programs through which to learn about the importance of education, or to teach us literacy or anything that makes our lives better.
I am very glad that I came to this class, which not only made me literate but also taught me a better life style.”
Our History: It All Started in Calgary
In 1997, Calgarians, Janice Eisenhauer and Carolyn Reicher met while completing a senior Development Studies course at the University of Calgary. Shocked by the human rights violations Afghan women were facing under the Taliban regime, they began to explore how they as Canadian women could help Afghan women in a tangible and effective way.
Calgary became the national office of CW4WAfghan and has remained one of the most robust and active chapters in our network. There are 720 Calgary and area residents who reach out in support our goals and objectives by attending our events, volunteering or keeping informed through signing up for our monthly news bulletins. Each year the local members bring together more than 600 Calgarians for its annual gala, featuring international human rights advocates like news anchor Lisa LaFlamme in 2015. Last fall the Calgary chapter hosted the CW4WAfghan National Symposium at Banff Park Lodge to connect volunteers from all over Canada who share a passion and commitment to improving human rights in Afghanistan. Throughout the year CW4WAfghan Calgary engages students from elementary through high school who volunteer at our events, host our speakers in their classrooms, and have started their own movements in support of human rights. A decade ago, students from George McDougall High School in Airdrie collaborated with the chapter to found Students 4 Change. This group, led by Calgary member and teacher Glyn Hughes, collaborated with us to develop our online, free Teachers' Resource Kit (www.cw4wafghan.ca/resources/educators-resource-kit) which is now used throughout Alberta. Students 4 Change continue to hold an annual breaking bread event and have raised thousands of dollars for education programs in Afghanistan.
"I was inspired by Mr. Glyn Hughes, a very admirable, motivated social studies teacher at my high school to join a group called S4C. This group has since changed my perspective of the world, enabled me to become a critical thinker and empowered me to make change happen." --S4C Student
The chapter also has organized International Women's Day events throughout the city, provides speakers for The University of Calgary, and works with the network of Calgary and area Rotary and other service clubs to raise awareness about human rights in Afghanistan. The organization received the Calgary YMCA Peace Award, and founder, Janice Eisenhauer has been honoured with the 2005 Alberta Centennial Medal; the 2014 City of Calgary Signature Award, and most recently in 2015, the Alberta Award of Excellence.
From our beginnings in Calgary unfolds many more remarkable stories of how people from all across the country have joined together in solidarity as members of this uniquely Canadian network: Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.
Our Impact What We Do
Fifteen years ago the Taliban regime ruled Afghanistan with a closed mind and an iron fist. In the last decade, Afghan women have made significant advances, in education, in the professions and business, in political participation, and in media and culture. Human development has improved, and many women are taking part in public life. Yet many women are still denied their basic rights, violence against women is rampant, and barriers exist to accessing education. Female teachers have been threatened with death; rural schools have been burned; and the Taliban threaten families who send their daughters to school. Millions of women and girls continue to live a harsh reality marked by extreme poverty and oppression. Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan) was established to bring together the efforts of Canadians who are passionate about improving the lives of Afghan women and girls.
CW4WAfghan is a not-for-profit charitable organization with 13 chapters and more than 800 volunteer members across Canada who support 20 Afghan program staff in Afghanistan.
Members: Afghan and Canadian members believe that the path to true peace in Afghanistan is through education. To that end, they work to advance education and educational opportunities for Afghan women and their families, and to educate Canadians about human rights in Afghanistan.
Mission: Canadians taking action, in partnership with Afghan women, towards improving conditions of human rights, ending women’s oppression, and providing opportunities for Afghan women to live their lives with dignity, certainty and purpose.
Values: CW4WAfghan members believe that individuals, as global citizens, working in solidarity and with integrity of purpose and action, can affect positive change in the world through education and the promotion of social justice and human rights.
Goal: To ensure effective long-term sustainable education programs for Afghan women and their families and to engage Canadians as global citizens.
- Canadian Board of Directors with cross-Canada representation
- Project Management Team overseeing project and program design and performance and project management committees
- Afghanistan Country Office with 20 Afghan staff in Kabul
Our investments in our Basic Education Program are improving the quality of education by training teachers who are working in classrooms, and expanding their access to educator resources through our Lantern Teacher Education Program. We equip schools with Science Lab and Library Starter Kits and we provide training to teachers on how to make the best use of these tools. We also support two community schools, the Fatema Tul Zahra schools in Kabul and in Maimana, Faryab. Finally, we provide funding to support vulnerable women and girls to access education through the Shafia Fund, with small scholarships to cover educational costs such as school fees.
Lantern: Teacher Training In Afghanistan: Since the launch of the teacher education program in 2008, 7,600 teachers have been trained in Afghanistan and 188 Science Lab Starter Kits and 202 School Library Starter Kits have been distributed. Over 50% of the teachers trained in 2014 were female. We signed a new 3-year protocol with Afghan Government to train 3,600 teachers and launched the Lantern Program in a new province, Kapisa. Exceptional improvement was demonstrated by Lantern-trained female teachers during classroom observation visits, with unprecedented evidence of application of active learning methods
Afghanistan Reads! | Afghanistan Lowalee! Community Libraries and Literacy Program: In 2014, nearly 600 literacy students graduated from the Afghanistan Reads! Program in six provinces. In partnership with the Linda Norgrove Foundation, the program put literacy within reach of adult woman and out-of-school girls through basic literacy programs; reinforces literacy by nurturing a culture of reading; encourages excellence in the teaching of literacy; and ties classes in with other skills development, including livelihoods and like skills like health, hygiene, and nutrition. Recent assessment found momentous improvement in students’ reading and writing skills; increased confidence and presentation skills; and increased participation in the life of their village after literacy classes, such as speaking up in village meetings or taking on leadership roles in their communities.
Darakht-e Danesh—Knowledge Tree—OnlineLibrary for Afghan Educators: After many years in the development stages, CW4WAfghan proudly launched the The Darakht-e Danesh Library, Afghanistan’s first comprehensive digital educational resource collection! The Library is housed within an interactive, multilingual custom-designed web platform, and is comprised of more than 1,600 resources in 14 subject categories, for both primary and secondary teachers. Users register at www.darakhtdanesh.org where they can then search the database to download or print diverse educational materials, as well as upload their own materials to share with others. The DD Library is a solution for the extreme lack of educational materials available to teachers in Afghanistan—an answer to overcome the daunting lack of resources available for Afghan teachers.
"Thanks to the generous support of CW4WAfghan members and donors across Canada, financial resources are being made available to purchase and distribute hundreds of mini-libraries and science kits in the rural communities in Afghanistan. Through active learning, hundreds of thousands of children will have the opportunity to learn and acquire the knowledge and life skills that will enable them to help shape the future of their country — the kind of Afghanistan in which they want to live, work and raise their own families." - Janice Eisenhauer, Executive Director
Our Programs How We Do It
“Owning a library at the school was a dream for us and CW4WAfghan made this dream come true. Our literature teachers made a schedule for us to use the library for writing essays and creating charts for specific occasions. We are so thankful to the donors of these kits.” - Girls School, Istalf District, Kabul Province
CW4WAfghan programs are focused on education, specifically to increase the access and quality of education for Afghan women and girls. Education is the best path to empowerment for women and girls, and supporting the education of men enhances the overall community and helps to reinforce support for women's right to education. To learn more about the strong link between literacy rates in a society and the status of women, please read here: our Programs.
- CW4WAfghan imports hand-crafted Afghan products for sale at our community events here in Canada. This initiative provides educational and economic opportunities to previously unemployed and unskilled Afghan women through fair trade wages and skills development. A small profit from product sales provides chapter members with resources for their public engagement activities in Canada.
- Since 1996, CW4WAfghan has continually worked toward a mutual relationship of trust and accountability with non-profit Afghan organizations with programmes designed by or for Afghan women. This is done through establishing thorough reporting, monitoring and evaluation procedures.
- Our organization selects beneficiaries, particularly Afghan women and children in under-served areas, who will benefit most directly from our support. We carefully select those Afghan organizations or individuals who have the proven reputation, expertise and experience to carry out our projects.
To assist with running our programs, we have established a small office in Kabul managed by our Country Director. Our executive members in Canada travel to Afghanistan when possible (when security allows and funding is available) to further strengthen, evaluate and monitor our projects. Our Canadian Project Committee also oversees all management of the projects and communication via email, teleconference and mail in conjunction with our Kabul office. This committee is chaired by our Projects Director, who is under a part-time contract with CW4WAfghan as part of our overseas project management. The Committee reviews regular project reports, and meets several times throughout the year for our program planning, monitoring and evaluation. They oversee the formal written contracts with our implementing partner organizations which outline the terms of the project, the work plans and budgets, as well as specific roles and responsibilities and reporting requirements.
- Our program activities meet the charitable requirements of Canada Revenue Agency in line with our approved purposes: advancing education and educational opportunities for Afghan women and girls.
CW4WAfghan Programs and Projects
- Fatema‐Tul‐Zahra Schools: The FTZ schools provide basic education from grades 1-10 for hundreds of disadvantaged children in two locations, Faryab and Kabul, as well as clothing, food, medicine and healthcare, books and supplies, school lunches, and orphans boarding.
- Women’s Literacy Classes: We support basic literacy classes for adult women and out-of-school girls in Kabul, Balkh, Herat, Kapisa and Badakhshan. The classes also provide health, hygiene, nutrition, rights and livelihood education, and access to a library for new readers.
- Teacher Training: Our largest project is the Fanoos Teacher Training Program, which trains in-service female and male secondary teachers with no previous training. This project has trained over 7,000 teachers since 2008 in Kabul, Panjshir, Laghman and Parwan. To sustain this program, The Lantern Fund was launched as a unique campaign to provide donors with the opportunity to contribute: “lighting a candle that burns to enlighten others”, an Afghan proverb used to describe the role of teachers.
- School Science Labs: Our teacher training program emphasizes hands-on science and active student-centred learning. To support this kind of teaching, we aim to equip all participating schools, approximately 50 annually, with School Lab Starter Kits, each containing over 130 items from a microscope and anatomy models to chemicals, allowing for classrooms experiments, demonstrations and bringing science to life.
- School and Community Libraries: For literacy to be sustained, new readers need access to books. That’s why we’ve been working to place libraries in all of our literacy classes for the students and their families, as well as in every school where we’ve trained the teachers. These library kits include 500 volumes plus shelving and CW4WAfghan provides librarianship training for teachers, and ongoing monitoring.
- The Darakht‐e Danesh Library for Afghan Educators: As part of our teacher training work, we’ve developed a collection of 1,200 educator resources, housed in an online multilingual library called Darakht-e Danesh (“knowledge tree”). We are further developing this collection, and also have plans to open a Teachers’ E-Learning Centre in Kabul where teachers can access these local-language educational materials that help teachers further build their content knowledge.
- Event Sponsorship for Global Citizenship: Our annual symposium every October focuses on education in Afghanistan and is a critical part of our public engagement work in Canada, drawing in new volunteers and supporters while educating the public through exposure to Afghan guest speakers, workshops and panels.
Our Requests What You Can Do
Help us take action, in partnership with Afghan women and girls, to improve conditions of human rights, to end women's oppression, and to provide opportunities for Afghan women to live with dignity, certainty and purpose.
The heart of CW4WAfghan is the remarkable and unique skills and commitment of every volunteer member across Canada! Be a part of the global effort for justice and human rights. The rewards are endless both personally, and for all of us!
Join a Chapter in your area to learn more about local activities and events…and make new friends! There’s no Chapter in your area? We can help you start one!
Help others learn about the issues. Review our Fact Sheet series, resources and newsletters. Invite a CW4WAfghan representative to your work place, school, book club or community group to raise awareness of the need to continue sustaining education programs for Afghan women and girls. Or become a Volunteer Translator in Dari or Pashto. Visit our website for more information.
Talk to us about other specific volunteer tasks depending on your interests, skills and time available. We welcome you to contact us to discover the right fit for your valuable skills and contributions!
BECOME A MEMBER
Stay connected to CW4WAfghan with a one-time membership fee of $15.00. Simply complete and sign the Membership Form on our website and mail with a $15.00 cheque payable to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, PO Box 86016 Marda Loop, Calgary, AB T2T 6B7. You will receive monthly news bulletins, hear about events and volunteer opportunities in your area, and more.
Your help will support projects that collectively put thousands of girls through school, put hundreds of out-of-school girls and adult women through literacy programs, assist co-educational schools, train female and male in-service teachers, and develop library programming in the country.
When we see a small barefoot girl in a crumbling classroom who comes from a family where no one can read or write, we don’t see a victim. We see a child poised to fight for her right to be there and burning for change. And if she gets a hand up: the tools to learn and the guidance of trained, passionate teachers—if she is aware that even outsiders are prepared to defend her right to be there—she will prove to be everything the Taliban fear: a defiant, smart, imaginative, and even revolutionary, leader. - Lauryn Oates, Programs Director
HOLD A BREAKING BREAD POTLUCK DINNER
Simply invite nine guests to join together for an enjoyable evening, each donating $75. The total of $750 raised in that one evening will cover the salary for an Afghan teacher for six months. Funds can also be directed toward our Lantern: Teacher Training for Afghanistan Program and to provide school starter kits. Email BreakingBread@CW4WAfghan.ca for tips to start planning!
CW4WAfghan volunteers operate with minimal overhead, ensuring that funds are directed to the targeted partners and beneficiaries in Afghanistan. Our expenses are kept to a minimum through volunteer contributions, by maximizing in-kind services and by taking advantage of the cost-savings offered by modern means of electronic communication such as SKYPE, texting, email and social media tools, working from our own residences and reducing operation expenses for rent and utilities, etc.
Your contribution could mean a world of difference. Here’s our wish list:
- $30 buys notebooks, pencils and paper for a student at a community school for 6 months
- $75 pays for training materials and books for teacher training
- $120 pays a monthly salary for a village librarian
- $250 provides lunches for 70 orphan students for one month
- $400 provides training and certification for one teacher trainee$500 provides literacy text books for 100 new readers
- $750 pays a teacher’s salary for six months$1,000 provides one school science kit containing over 200 items from a microscope to anatomy models
- $1,500 purchases a 500-book large library kit for a school or village literacy class
Buy a Product from Afghanistan
Beautiful hand-crafted products made by Afghan women are sold through our volunteer network at community events across Canada. The artisans are paid for the products at the time the shipments are made to Canada and prices are set at fair wages. This initiative provides educational and economic opportunities to previously unemployed and unskilled Afghan women. A small profit from product sales provides chapter members with resources for their public engagement activities in Canada.
Buy a Book by Deborah Ellis or Sally Armstrong
CW4WAfghan is proud to benefit from the sales of many excellent books available at your favourite local book store or at our community events (while supplies last).
The money the books have raised has put women to work, children in school, and food in people’s bellies. I’ve been frequently astonished at how easy it is to radically improve someone’s life. It’s an honour to be a part of it.” - Deborah Ellis Kids of Kabul; My Name is Parvana; The Breadwiner;, Parvana's Journey, Mud City
"The seed of education and human rights is taking hold in Afghanistan. I want to see this important work of CW4WAfghan succeed. Let's get this job done! Improving the skills of teachers throughout Afghanistan will ensure women and girls can gain access to a quality education. Canada can help this dream become a reality.” - Sally Armstrong Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power of the Women of Afghanistan; Bitter Roots, Tender Shoots: The Uncertain Fate of the Women of Afghanistan; Ascent of Women