I drew deep inspiration from the Kabul Women’s Association, which began 10 years ago as a feeding program for Afghan widows. It now mobilizes 10,000 women who learn about their rights (in regard to employment, inheritance and other issues), develop their own livelihoods — particularly with regard to livestock — and speak up about key issues such as girls’ education and child marriage. In the process, they solve not only their own problems and those of their families’, but also their community’s too.
One of the women, I’ll call her Basima (I’m not using real names to protect the women’s safety), said that her brother-in-law would not let her daughters go to school. Unfortunately, that’s too common in places that undervalue girls’ education in favor of boys’. And when that place is war-battered like Afghanistan, the barriers only become more entrenched. But by confronting these challenges head-on, the Kabul Women’s Association has helped assure that Basima’s three daughters, once forbidden to attend school, stayed in the classroom. They now attend university, even though Basima herself remains illiterate.