Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan), founded in 1998, is a federally registered charity (Canada Revenue Agency #887718203RR0001) that works in Canada, Afghanistan and with displaced Afghan populations. CW4WAfghan is an official partner in consultative status with UNESCO and  a member of the Afghanistan National Education Coalition, a network of NGOs working to advance education in Afghanistan. CW4WAfghan delivers award-winning programs that have been recognized by the American Library Association and the Library of Congress, among others.

Our mission

Our mission is Canadians taking action in partnership with Afghan women, towards improving conditions of human rights, ending women’s oppression, and providing opportunities for Afghan women to live their lives with dignity, certainty and purpose. We do this by advancing effective sustainable education and educational opportunities for Afghan women and their families, by educating Canadians about human rights in Afghanistan, and through advocacy for systems level change at the federal and international levels.

We stand for the right to learn for everyone, everywhere. Because human rights are universal.


Humanitarian and Human Rights Crisis

In August 2021, Afghanistan was seized by force, leaving the country in the grip of repressive Taliban rule. We have seen an acceleration of what we always feared: violations of the human rights of women and girls so severe that they are effectively being erased from public life altogether, and a methodical reversal of the advances made on their rights in the last 20 years. Despite the challenges we face, CW4WAfghan holds strong in our conviction that everyone (regardless of who or where they are) deserves an education, the right to determine the course of their own life, and the protection of their human rights. Together, we are part of the movement to empower women to reassert their rights, fight for their rightful place in society, push their way into classrooms, insist they have the right to work, run businesses, vote, run for office, and live in dignity.

Our programs

A dedicated team of staff locally and abroad manage our programs in seven key areas: (1) Investing in Basic Education; (2) Community and Family Literacy; (3) Technology for Education; (4) Grants and Scholarships; (5) Public Engagement; (6) Advocacy & Public Policy Dialogue; (7) Supporting At Risk Afghans. In the course of our existence, we have trained over 10,000 teachers, established over 200 community libraries, supported thousands of women to become literate through classes for women who did not get to go to school, furbished schools with science laboratory materials and libraries, and helped teachers get access to resources like lessons plans, textbooks and visual aides through our extensive library of learning resources: Given the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, we have been adapting our programming to respond to this new reality and to a growing need for the work we do. During the worsening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan in recent months, we have also provided humanitarian assistance to displaced families. Some of our current priorities include: Delivering Humanitarian Assistance as funds allow; we have delivered more than 950 Learning Plus Baskets to families in need, which include educational resources and basic necessities such as staple food items, baby formula, hygiene kits and warm blankets, and educational materials. Providing continued access to our Darakht-e Danesh Digital Library (DDL) and expanding virtual education opportunities through DD Courses and DD Classroom so that Afghan women and girls can learn wherever they are. Hiring and training female teachers for our online learning programs, who would otherwise be denied employment because they are women. Providing internet access, devices, and power banks to girls so they can continue their education from home, or wherever they are. Expanding our Shafia Fund scholarship program to enable continued learning opportunities for young women in Afghanistan and those who have fled the country, who would not otherwise have the opportunity to study. Mobilizing Canadians as engaged global citizens and engaging decision makers as we advocate for the rights of Afghan women and girls and for the safe passage for at-risk Afghans looking to leave the country. Engaging higher education institutions with a solutions based toolkit to mobilize Canadian university resources and communities and provide alternative access to higher educational opportunities for Afghan women. Establishing partnerships with NGOs in other countries such as Turkey and Pakistan to collaborate on program delivery to refugees. In our work we recognize the link between quality education and peace building; we believe that a literate population with free access to information and with access to viable education and economic opportunities will be Afghanistan’s greatest stabilizing force and its best hope for achieving peace. Today Afghan women and girls face daunting conditions in seeking education; however, this does not change the impact that education makes. In fact, this makes their access to education all the more essential and life-changing. Literacy is irreversible, and it is intergenerational: literate mothers raise literate daughters. Social change is birthed through education, and women and girls who can access education will be the leaders of tomorrow. When you support our work, you are investing in women and girls who will ultimately win their rights and who can fight to build a society where women and girls can live in dignity and in peace.

Volunteers are at our core.

In Canada, CW4WAfghan supporters and members move forward our mission in many ways, including through our chapter network in communities across Canada. CW4WAfghan has sustained a dynamic group of core volunteers since its inception, which has seen steady growth since our founding. These members serve in a variety of volunteer capacities from leading chapter meetings, to event planning, public outreach and education and advocacy activities. Other volunteers support the national office’s activities, including serving on one of the national committees, or providing virtual volunteer services such as research and communication tasks. In addition, every year, hundreds of Canadians host Breaking Bread potluck dinners to fundraise for CW4WAfghan’s education projects.

Education is a universal human right.

The people of Afghanistan have demonstrated an intense demand for education, for both girls and boys. Despite recent political upheavals, our mission has not changed, and in fact is more vital than ever. We are committed to realizing the right to education for all. 

Everyone has a right to learn. 

We will stay in Afghanistan, and at the same time we are also preparing to meet the needs of a growing displaced population that includes thousands of women and girls who have had to leave the country. We are convinced this will continue to contribute to peace, poverty reduction and social development, and to the empowerment of women and girls.

Learn more

Find out more about CW4W on their website