“There are men who mistreat and abuse girls and women who have no place to live,” says one 19-year-old female shelter resident in Afghanistan, who ran away from home when her father tried to trade her for a young bride for himself after her mother died.
It’s stories like these that suggest timing could not be better for donors to pay more attention to the needs of marginalized women in developing nations. Helpfully, some big foundations are entering the fray and deploying funds to help preserve human rights for women in Afghanistan. Five big foundations, Carnegie, Hewlett, Ford, Packard, and MacArthur all recently pledged a package of $750,000 to support Afghan women in the conservative country where women’s rights are limited.
Shelter resources are high demand for Afghan women. As this Associated Press article reports, an organization like Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan, with a monthly operating budget of just $14,000, is struggling to stay open.
The five foundations will support Women for Afghan Women (WAW) with this new infusion of $750,000. WAW reports that since 2001, it has “assisted 25,479 clients and trained over 304,550 people on women’s rights.” A full 80% of the women in shelters in Afghanistan are being housed in WAW shelters, according to the nonprofit’s website.
How did this new funding for WAW come about? The five foundation consortium “stems from an introduction by a WAW supporter that led to a meeting between Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation of New York, and WAW’s Executive Director, Manizha Naderi,” according to a press release about the grant. As a result of this meeting, Dr. Gregorian served as a key facilitator of the donation.
The new funding and strategy will build WAW’s sustainability and “strengthen operations, expand programming, and diversify WAW’s funding portfolio.” WAW fills an important niche in supporting Afghan women by operating in both New York and Afghanistan, helping people at diverse points in their lives and bridging the divide between the two nations.
WAW’s Board Chair, Sunita Viswanath, called for more donors to come on board as she acknowledged the leadership of Hewlett, Packard, Ford, Carnegie, and MacArthur. “It is truly remarkable for foundation leaders to make such a generous commitment in WAW’s potential to save more lives and bring dignity to Afghan women, families, and communities,” said Viswanath. “We invite more donors to support WAW during these challenging times.”