Georgetown University

Council Projects



Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) leads the Mobile Literacy Initiative in Afghanistan, a project initiated by the UNESCO Chair at Georgetown University with support from the Geraldine P. Waldorf Fund. The initiative harnesses mobile phone technology to promote literacy and use of mobile phones among illiterate women in Afghanistan. Since 2012, AIL has held classes for 1906 illiterate women. After just four months, over 75% have tested at the 4th grade reading and writing level and 20% at the third grade reading and writing level. Most students continue their studies after completing the class. (Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Heidi Waldorf, Dr. Phyllis Magrab)

Aschiana Foundation supports the grassroots work of Aschiana's programs in Afghanistan by providing children working on the streets and those in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps with literacy and vocational training, healthcare, psycho-social recovery support, recreational activities and the opportunities to grow and develop in a safe environment. Aschiana, meaning "nest" in Dari, was founded in 1995 by Engineer Yousef Mohammed, who noticed the growing numbers of working street children - children who cannot attend school full time because they must work to support themselves and their families. Since then, Engineer Yousef has made it his mission to educate and empower these children. Today, in addition to the main center in Kabul, Aschiana operates in 6 provinces, and in 7 IDP camps – serving more than 3,500 children a day. Since its inception 20 years ago, Aschiana has served over 80,000 children. (Mary Jo Myers and Leslie Cunningham)

Ayenda Foundation educates 306 students from pre-school to 7th grade in Ayenda School, which now operates as a private school under supervision of the Afghan Ministry of Education, enabling it to serve all children in the province – not only orphans as it did in the past.  In 2018, Ayenda launched a pre-school program, a curriculum not offered in Afghan public schools.  Since 2015, Ayenda Foundation has partnered with the worldwide 10,000 Global Girls Initiative to improve and empower Afghan girls through storytelling, creative expression, literacy and mentorship.  Ayenda also provides scholarships to female students from provinces throughout Afghanistan enabling them to attend the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF).  (Shamim Jawad, Timothy McBride, Dr. Marna Whittington)

The Bayat Foundation is nourishing the lives of Afghans by empowering primary, secondary, and university level education throughout the nation.  The Foundation recently inaugurated the Bayat Institute of Technology at American University of Afghanistan, a 32,000 square foot science and technology teaching and research center.  (Fatema Bayat and Charlie Ponticelli)

E-Higher Education Initiative is responding to the need for high quality education and access to top tier faculty and literature by identifying online learning opportunities that meet core competency needs in Afghanistan. It has been developing partnerships between institutions and organizations in the U.S. that can offer e-learning opportunities and a designated flagship university or cluster of higher education institutions in Afghanistan-- to provide courses via cutting edge online learning management systems. The multi-phase project will begin with a development phase during which a feasibility assessment will be conducted. (Maryam Qudrat)

The Foundation for Afghanistan awards scholarships to Afghan students and partners with local Afghan and U.S. universities and colleges to offer scholarships to Afghans, particularly young women. (Ambassador Said Jawad)

Friends of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) raise funds to support scholarships, academic programs, and new buildings on campus, including the International Center for Afghan Women Economic Development (ICAWED). (Leslie Schweitzer)

The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security seeks to enhance U.S. national and global security by elevating and examining the effect of women's participation to: improve peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peace-building; strengthen conflict prevention and resolution initiatives; mitigate humanitarian emergencies; and foster democratic political transitions. GIWPS maintains a focus on Afghan women. (Ambassador Melanne Verveer)

The Initiative To Educate Afghan Women is a four-year undergraduate education and leadership development program working to create Afghanistan’s next generation of women leaders in Afghanistan.  The Initiative partners with U.S. colleges and universities to deliver undergraduate education to Afghan women who want to help other women of Afghanistan in their struggle for gender equity. The Initiative also provides leadership training and career guidance to prepare these young women for roles at the forefront of political, economic ­and social development in their homeland.  (Christian Wistehuff)

The Lamia Afghan Foundation (LAF) was established in 2008 to improve the lives of girls and women, through the building of schools (seven built) for girls, by providing economic opportunities for women, by providing vocational and job training for women.  LAF also provides humanitarian aid to needy families in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP)/Refugee camps, orphanages, schools, hospitals, and rural villages.  LAF moved and distributed two huge loads of humanitarian aid in the winter of 2017-2018.  To date, LAF has sent over 3.5 million pounds of humanitarian aid to 22 provinces in Afghanistan, supported four hospitals in Kabul with equipment and supplies, moved an ambulance from Chicago to a clinic LAF helped to build in Khairabad, in western Afghanistan, and humanitarian supplies for distribution to villages in Laghman, Nangarhar, and Nuristan Provinces to help refugee returnees from Pakistan.  Has provided teachers for a school in the largest IDP Camp in Kabul and continues to support the seven schools it has built, all operated by the Afghan Ministry of Education. (Gen. (ret) John and Jan Bradley) 

Mothers as First Teachers, inspired by USAWC Honorary Co-Chair Hillary R. Clinton's work in early childhood development (ECD), MAFT provides ECD and parenting instruction to Afghan mothers in northeastern Afghanistan, incorporating mobile phone technology, in partnership with Child Fund Afghanistan. (Jill Iscol and Dr. Phyllis Magrab)

The Nooristan Foundation has been implementing its “EmPower a Village” campaign to raise funds for a program that will provide light through electricity, followed by learning through books to families in impoverished areas.  The concept is simple: Provide micro-hydro equipment, after which small mobile libraries will be provided “village to village.”  Thus far, four villages have received equipment, which has significantly improved life in the villages.  One of the reasons this program has been successful is the participation of the community in the project. (Mariam Atash)

Sesame Workshop has worked to improve educational outcomes in Afghanistan and foster skills and values that give the next generation its best chance for success since 2011. Created in tandem with local partners, Baghch-e-Simsim (“Sesame Garden” in Dari and Pashto) is an educational initiative designed to meet the developmental needs of children ages 3 to 7. Through its six seasons to-date of culturally relevant, Afghan-produced programming for television and radio, Baghch-e-Simsim delivers lessons of literacy, math, and life skills to millions of children and their caregivers, with emphasis on girls’ empowerment, mutual respect and understanding, national identity, and diversity. Complementing Baghch-e-Simsim’s mass media programming, community engagement outreach initiatives reach beyond television and radio to further deepen impact in both rural and urban areas. (Sherrie Westin)

The Sunshine Lady Foundation supports Women for Afghan Women (WAW) in its work to care for, house, and educate the children of Afghan women in prison. These centers serve as residences for children above age 5 whose mothers are in prison. The children in the CSCs go to school and have access to counseling, sports, art, music, and a loving environment designed for their well-being and happiness. Thanks to this effort, with the fourth CSC, it is hoped that there will be virtually no children above age 5 living in prison in Afghanistan.  (Doris Buffett)

The Women’s Initiative to Strengthen and Empower (WISE) provides educational resources to girls in underserved areas of Afghanistan. It currently has a women’s learning center in Kandahar, focused on providing education for girls who have previously not attended. A facility run by women for women in the community, the main focus of the center in Kandahar is to ensure girls from these restricted areas are literate and area able to gain the skills they need to prepare for the Kankor exam. The girls enrolled in the center consist of orphans, child-brides, refugees/IDPs, and those with low socioeconomic status. The instructors focus on basic education, including Pashto, Dari, and English Literacy, Mathematics, History, and religion. WISE members plan on expanding to more advanced courses and focus on STEM education.  (Alia Rasoully)



The Abbott Fund and the Afghan Institute for Learning (AIL), together with Direct Relief International,support five AIL clinics (three in Herat, two in Kabul) and offer five-day community health workshops.  (Kathy Pickus and Dr. Sakena Yacoobi)

The Bayat Foundation is nourishing the lives of Afghans by empowering women’s health through the construction of a new 25,000 square foot Bayat Maternity & Neonatal Hospital in Kabul that will feature specialist care for obstetric fistula and a women’s cancer clinic.  This will be the Foundation’s 13th hospital in Afghanistan, a network of care facilities that has treated more than 2 million patients since 2006.  The Foundation also continues its annual Gift of Hearing mission, which has thus far brought hearing, healing, and hope to more than 5,000 at-risk Afghans suffering from hearing impairment.  (Fatema Bayat)

Enabled Children Initiative supports disabled children who have been orphaned, abandoned, or are at risk of being abandoned, in Afghanistan. ECI provides comprehensive residential services to support disabled orphans in one private care home in Kabul, Window of Hope, and works with Children in Crisis and the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs, and Disabled (MoLSAMD) to provide support to disabled orphans residing in the two state orphanages. ECI is currently working on building a residential and community center in Kabul in cooperation with the government of Afghanistan. ECI is registered in the US as a 501 c3 and as a charity in the UK and 100% of funds raised go directly to the benefit of the children we support, their caretakers, and educators.  (Lael Mohib and Ilaha Eli Omar)

The Grossman Burn Foundation (GBF) launched the first-ever international telemedicine-based burn treatment/training program in tandem with Disaster Logistics Relief to address the need for specialized medical care in developing nations. The program includes face-to-face, real-time training for physicians through satellite technology and access to a network of medical experts who donate their time to help with complicated cases. More Afghan women die of complications from burn injuries than from HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined, yet there are only two hospitals in Afghanistan equipped to treat burns. GBF is exploring partnerships to replicate its e-health program in Afghanistan.  (Dr. Peter and Rebecca Grossman)

HEEDA's vision is to promote a culture of impact and sustainability in developing countries through health, education, and economic development programs. Since its founding in 2010, HEEDA has created culturally sensitive programs and research to improve the lives of Afghans. HEEDA is actively organizing and deploying basic health technologies and advancing a community center built to provide education to children and entrepreneurship to women in the remote village of Shamali.  (Suraya Rashid)

The Lamia Afghanistan Foundation provides scholarships, basic housing and board during rehab for survivors of mining accidents.  LAF works with Kabul Orthopedic Organization (KOO) and A Leg To Stand On (ALTSO), a New York City-based non-profit, to provide custom-made light-weight prosthetics for children.  Most recently, a girl named Farzana from Faryab province and a girl named Noorzia from Nangarhar have been the focus of our attention and efforts.  Noorzia was featured in a New York Times Op Ed in 2018, which helped raised awareness about the continuing dangers of land mines.  We continue to seek ways to partner with local and international organizations in collaboration with the Afghan government to increase food security for women and families, establish health clinics in far flung provinces such as Nuristan, and facilitate opportunities for young people from outside of the capital to obtain medical training to help their communities back home.  (Gen. (ret) John and Jan Bradley)

The Women’s Initiative to Strengthen and Empower (WISE) has provided access to medical supplies and basic care for thousands of women in communities with limited access to health facilities and a high-level of poverty. WISE primarily focuses on maternal and child health, providing prenatal vitamins and supplements for pregnant women as well as over the counter medicine for impoverished patients through mobile medical units. In January 2018, WISE launched the Salamat Application, the first maternal health app in Afghanistan aimed at improving the quality of data among health facilities and to enabl health professionals to better address the needs of women and their children. WISE also conducts community and public health workshops in the southern and eastern regions of Afghanistan for both health professionals and patients, focusing especially on maternal and child health, sanitation and hygiene, menstrual health, and gender-based violence.  (Alia Rasoully)

Women for Afghan Women (WAW) operates life-saving programs in Afghanistan and NY, and advocates for women's rights in Afghanistan, Washington, D.C., and around the world.  As a community-based organization, WAW has advanced its mission by working deep in the community, respecting the culture, religion and traditions of their clients.  In Afghanistan, WAW operates legal aid centers and emergency and long-term shelters for women and children in 13 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.  Since its inception in 2001, WAW has protected and empowered over 21,000 women and children and educated more than 280,000 individuals (men and women) on women's rights under Islam and the Afghan Constitution.  (Manizha Naderi, Leslie Cunningham, Masuda Sultan)


Economic Empowerment

ARZU Studio Hope provides sustainable, fair labor, artisan-based employment for women and worker benefits including access to education, health care, and community development projects in Bamyan Province.  ARZU supports Women’s Community Centers offering a gathering place and adult education in Dragon Valley and Shashpul; a Women’s Gardening Center in Dragon Valley; and three pre-schools.  (Connie Duckworth)

The Bayat Foundation is nourishing the lives of Afghans by empowering women’s entrepreneurial potential through the ongoing implementation of its Bright Futures program designed to teach business skills to Afghan entrepreneurs and create a thriving private sector of small and medium sized enterprises.  (Fatema Bayat and Charlie Ponticelli)

The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women's (IEEW) signature program, PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS®, has been educating women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan since 2006.  Almost 400 women business owners have graduated, each creating their own business plan while earning accreditation from our education partner, Northwood University. The PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® Network for alumnae is garnering visibility in Afghanistan by working with USAID and Afghan government agencies, co-founding the first Afghan Women's Chamber of Commerce & Industry, as well as awarding grants annually through the Bibi Khadija gala, and paying it forward in their communities in myriad ways. Graduates have created nearly 8,000 jobs for their fellow countrymen and women to date.  (Dr. Terry Neese)  

Kandahar Treasure employs women artisans from the Kandahar area in order to develop an economic base for the province and support the advancement of women throughout Afghanistan. For the past four years, Kandahar Treasure has been a non-profit project of Afghan for Civil Society (ACS). Since its inception in 2003, the number of women artisans who produce the handcrafted products we sell has expanded from 25 to more than 400. Four years later, Kandahar Treasure is now transforming into an independent for-profit business, marking an important milestone in the creation of economic opportunity and independence for Afghan women. (Rangina Hamidi)

Marshall Plan Charities is developing, on a 50/50 basis with Afghan villagers, its first sustainable, self-sufficient "model village" in Khairabad with wells, crops, a school, a vocational center, and a health clinic.  (Joanne King Herring)

Project Artemis is a proven, successful business and leadership training program for Afghan women entrepreneurs, led by the Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU, a top-ranked international business school located in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.  Started in 2005, 86 women have completed the Project Artemis program, creating over 3,000 jobs and training and mentoring an estimated 15,000 fellow Afghan men and women in business and leadership skills.  Thunderbird continues to support these women remotely, connecting them to resources and opportunities whenever possible.  Thunderbird in partnership with the American University of Afghanistan and Goldman Sach’s 10,000 Women Initiative continues to engage and support areas of need amongst the rising generation of Afghan businesswomen.  Over the last four years, Thunderbird and AUAF have assisted 10,000 Women graduates in establishing an alumni network to provide continuing sustainable educational, networking and business support to graduates.  (Ambassador Barbara Barrett and Eli Omar)


Leadership Development

Afghan Women Leaders Connect identifies and supports effective and accountable Afghan women educators, doctors and health workers, lawyers and judges, and women in business, through: direct financial support; human rights training; voter education training; and in-depth, year-long business training to help expand and strengthen their organizations. Afghan Women Leaders CONNECT hosts an internet forum where Afghan women’s voices can be heard.  (Diana Rowan Rockefeller)

Georgetown Universityhome to the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council, hosts the Rising Afghan Women Leaders Initiative for Afghan women leaders from a variety of sectors, bringing them together with Georgetown University students from the Washington DC and Doha campuses.  (Dr. Phyllis Magrab)

The U.S. Institute of Peace leads a working group of Council Members, NGOs, and government representatives to compile lessons learned and best practices in empowering Afghan and Iraqi women. USIP Center for Gender and Peacebuilding also operates a program in Afghanistan to enhance to civic education and political participation of young Afghan women.  (Ambassador Steven Steiner, Belquis Ahmadi, Palwasha Kakar, Hodei Sultan)

Voices on the Rise Voices on the Rise: Afghan Women Making the News is a photojournalism exhibition dedicated to courageous Afghan women working towards the reconstruction of their country from all fields – journalism, art, government and human rights, among others. Originally launched across Canada from 2006 – 2009, the exhibition has toured extensively in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Holland, and was recently shown at the Embassy of Finland on International Women’s Day, 2018. The exhibition provides an excellent platform for dialogue and helps to build bridges of understanding among its viewers about the resilience and determination of Afghan women role models to bring about constructive and positive change to their country.  (Khorshied Samad)