Launch of the University Network for Afghan Women

The U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council launched the “University Network for Afghan Women,” an alliance of 11 founding colleges and universities from across the U.S. and beyond in collaboration with the American University of Afghanistan.  This network is focused on supporting Afghan women and girls who face some of the worst discrimination in the world. 

Representatives from the member institutions met on February 8 to discuss initial strategies for the network’s first year, including collaborating on course offerings, sharing best practices on creating and funding scholarships for Afghan students, and supporting Afghan women artists through the I Stand with You campaign.

“During the upheaval that we’re facing in our world today, it’s critical to continue to focus on all who are marginalized and to find ways to lift them up,” says Phyllis Magrab, PhD, Vice Chair of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council based at Georgetown University. “Our specific focus is on the women and girls in Afghanistan who have been deprived of their most fundamental human rights and face significant challenges related to their health and human development.”

Since their return to power in 2021, the Taliban has banned girls over the age of 12 from attending school and restricted women’s rights to work, move freely, and go to public places.  Many Afghans have fled Afghanistan, with around 125,000 seeking refuge in the United States.  

“Over the past two years, U.S. universities have stepped up to help evacuate and support these new arrivals and to address the oppression and economic hardship of the 19 million women and girls remaining in Afghanistan,” says Magrab, a professor of pediatrics and director of Georgetown’s Center for Child and Human Development. “Through the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council at Georgetown University, we’re able to connect these universities and amplify our impact, and look forward to growing this important network.”

Founding members include American University of Afghanistan, Arizona State University, Boston University, Georgetown University, New York University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northwood University, Oklahoma State University, Stanford Center for South Asia, the Center for Governance and Markets at the University of Pittsburgh, and The University of Tulsa, as well as partner organizations Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund (AGFAF), ArtLords, the Institute of International Education (IIE), and the 30 Birds Foundation.

Members of the Network are supporting Afghan women in a variety of ways, including:

  • hosting the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council and boosting Council members’ education, health, economic empowerment, and civic leadership programs for women in Afghanistan; 
  • leading the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security’s Onward for Afghan Women initiative to elevate the voices of Afghan women leaders as they continue their advocacy for Afghan women and girls;
  • providing online university education and English language training for Afghan women in Afghanistan and third countries; 
  • hosting the Alliance for Education of Women in Afghanistan, seeking to expand alternative educational opportunities for Afghan women and girls;
  • training Afghan women entrepreneurs;
  • providing scholarships and fellowships to Afghan women scholars and students;
  • hosting the Alliance for Afghan Women’s Economic Resilience, providing online education and mentorship opportunities for women in Afghanistan;
  • supporting Afghan women refugees in their communities through English language training, tuition scholarships, housing, and other wrap around support services;
  • offering Afghan studies programs with a gender focus; and 
  • advocating for the right of Afghan women to education and other basic human rights.

The Network plans to meet regularly to collaborate on current and additional projects.  

We invite additional universities to join us moving forward to support the advancement of Afghan women.  Please contact USAWC.Georgetown@gmail.com for more information.

Members of the Network:

American University of Afghanistan

ASU Francis and Dionne Najafi 100 Million Learners Global Initiative

ASU Lifelong Learning Programs

ASU Education for Humanity

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BU Alliance for Afghan Women’s Economic Resilience

Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security

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NYU Steinhardt – Education in Afghanistan

NYU Assessment of Learning Outcomes and Social Effects (ALSE) in Afghanistan

Northeastern Illinois Afghan Transition Program

Northwood Empowering Female Entrepreneurs

OSU Afghan Families Project

Stanford Conference on the State of Afghan Women’s Education

Pittsburgh Center for Governance – The Afghanistan Project

Tulsa Afghan Community Support

Partner Organizations: