Today is International Women’s Day. As an organization committed to eliminating racism and empowering women, we believe that all women & girls should experience educational opportunities, safety in their homes, and freedom to live their lives as they see fit.
Today, we call you to learn more about the experience of women across the globe. In particular, we call attention today to the women of Iran and Afghanistan, who are currently demanding access to education, battling for their freedom, and advocating for liberation, all at great peril.
Late last year, the Taliban in Afghanistan suspended women’s higher education, ended school for girls above 6th grade, and banned women from working in local and international nongovernmental organizations. While these edicts from the oppressive Taliban regime were unsurprising to women’s rights advocates, the call for support for women & girls of Afghanistan was cast loudly. Here are some ways you can help:
- Women for Afghan Women (WAW) is the largest women’s organization in Afghanistan and provides life-changing services, education, and vocational training for clients across Afghanistan and in the United States, who have endured rights violations. It also is the only Afghan-led organization in the U.S. that provides support to Afghan survivors of domestic violence. Learn more about their work here: https://womenforafghanwomen.org/
- Did you know that Virginia has the second largest Afghan community in the U.S.—having over 23,000 or 18% of the US total Afghan population, according to WAW? More than 6,000 new Afghans have arrived in the state since 2021, with thousands more arriving in 2022 & 2023. As such, WAW’s Virginia Community Center was established in 2002 and provides vital services to newly arrived Afghan people. Located in Alexandria, VA, the center provides immediate, pro bono, culturally-sensitive, and linguistically-competent social services such as case management, immigration legal services, mental health counseling, adult empowerment classes and after-school tutoring and youth leadership development programs. Support their efforts here: https://womenforafghanwomen.org/virginia-community-center/
- Onward for Afghan Women is an initiative of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) aimed at elevating and equipping Afghan women leaders with opportunities to continue their advocacy on behalf of Afghan women and girls. Learn more about their work here: https://onwardforafghanwomen.org/
In September 2002, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested for “improperly” wearing her hijab. Days later, she died while in police custody. Her tragic death ignited the spark for a women-led rebellion. Protests erupted across Iran, with women tearing off their hijabs, cutting their hair, and rallying under the cry of “women, life, freedom.” These women-led calls for freedom were heard around the world, thanks to journalists, activists, and social media. In our area, women and their allies have marched & gathered in solidarity with Iranian women and their calls for freedom. Support for these freedom efforts is ongoing, both internationally and locally. Here are some ways to help:
- Impact Iran is a coalition of 17 non-government human rights organizations that publicly advocate for United Nations members to support resolutions advancing human rights measures in Iran. Support their efforts here: https://impactiran.org/
- The Iranian American Women Foundation accepts funds to aid their platform for empowering, networking with, and mentoring younger generations of Iranian women in the U.S. and across the world. Learn more about their advocacy actions here: https://www.iawfoundation.org/take-action/
- The Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran serves as a major source of information inside Iran for women and believes in gender equality in political, social, and economic arenas. Support their efforts here: https://women.ncr-iran.org/support-the-struggle-of-iranian-women/
May this day remind you that women are valuable leaders, making our world a more just & equitable place. They deserve freedom, safety, education, and liberation today and every day.
CEO, YWCA National Capital Area