News & Stories Changing Lives Blazing a trail for women and girls For women and girls in Afghanistan, life comes with many barriers. Despite significant progress over the last decade, Afghanistan remains one of the hardest places in the world to be a woman. 87% of Afghan women and girls suffer from at least one form of abuse. In conservative areas, fear of stigmatisation and violence prevents many women from claiming their human rights, keeping them shackled in poverty. Afghanaid is working to change this. We know that gender equality is critical to achieving progress in Afghanistan. That’s why we are working to increase understanding and acceptance of women’s rights, and to change attitudes towards issues such as violence against women and early or forced marriage. Afghanaid trains local human rights defenders, enabling them to advocate for the social and economic rights of women and intervene on behalf of vulnerable women in their communities. One woman whose life has been transformed with the help of Afghanaid is Massouda: “Four years ago, my dream was to continue my education and become a teacher, but I live in a conservative district and no girls I knew had ever been allowed to do this. My future was decided for me by my parents; I was stuck at home with no independence and no role to play in the community. Then I heard about a community resource centre established by Afghanaid and because all the teachers were women, I managed to persuade my parents to let me enroll in some courses. While studying there, I heard about Afghanaid’s women’s rights project and joined their course to become a human rights defender. Before the training, I only knew what my parents told me about women's place in society, but now I know what Islam really says, which has helped me to understand my own rights. I have already been able to advocate for other women in my community and help them get out of difficult situations, so they can pursue their dreams as I have. After my training, I became a qualified teacher and started teaching at the resource centre. At the beginning of this year, I was offered a job in the district government office by the district governor himself! My friends Sheeba and Samira faced the same difficulties; their families would not allow them to continue their studies. Myself, along with Mawlawi Kakar and two community elders, approached their families to try and persuade them. I said, “If Islam gives women the right to gain an education, then who are we to stop them from doing so?” Eventually they agreed to let Sheeba and Samira return to their studies and they are now both working at the district government office with me. We are the first women to work there in seventeen years! Since Afghanaid came to our village, a lot has changed for women and girls. Many more girls are going to school. Some families are even refusing to marry their daughters to illiterate men, as they now understand the value of education.” Afghanaid also works closely with influential members of communities, such as religious leaders like Mawlawi Kakar, who help us to spread positive messages about women’s rights through a culturally sensitive Islamic perspective. By running community-wide awareness raising campaigns, we facilitate a broader understanding and acceptance of women’s rights. How you can help Your support will enable us to work with more communities, and reach many more women and girls, so that they can claim their rights and build a brighter future for themselves and their families.