We are extremely alarmed by the perilous situation in Afghanistan at the hands of the Taliban, who have rapidly taken over the country. Emboldened by the withdrawal of the US Army, the Taliban has completely dismantled the Afghan government—putting millions of lives at immediate risk.
As is true with any political or natural calamity, girls and women stand to lose the most. In Afghanistan, women and girls have made painstaking advances over the years in their access to education, economic security, social capital, and most importantly, personal liberty and human rights. All of this is now in jeopardy.
We are already hearing terrifying accounts from women journalists, activists, and students, as their autonomy and personal freedoms are being quickly squashed.
At this moment of crisis, all of us at EMpower are thinking of the people in Afghanistan as they try to come to terms with this new reality. One of EMpower’s first grants was made to the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in 2000, to support girls’ education. AIL is dedicated to creating opportunities for girls and women and safeguarding their health and well-being, and was founded and is led by the audacious Dr. Sakena Yacoobi.
In a powerful letter posted on Twitter, Dr. Yacoobi recently said, “We are a nation at a crossroads but AIL will do what AIL has always done. We will continue to educate and provide a safe space for children and women. We will continue to offer food and job training and medical care for as long as we can remain in our facilities. When it is no longer possible to remain in those buildings, we will find new buildings, and work from there. Wherever we have schools now, we will have schools next week or next month, or next year….While we are afraid, we are not defeated.”
Dr. Yacoobi’s determination and fearlessness are inspiring. Given our early relationship with AIL and our commitment to centring girls and women, EMpower will make an emergency grant of $10,000 to the organisation. During this time of upheaval, we hope to contribute in a small yet meaningful way to their vital work, helping to reach the most marginalised girls and young women in Afghanistan. We stand with our partners and peer organisations working to ensure girls’ voices and rights are not forgotten or suppressed.
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