Afghan Women and Girls Campaign

Campaign Objectives

  • Ensuring that Afghan women’s rights are preserved and strengthened during the ongoing peace talks
  • Increase public awareness about Afghan women and girls in the US and the world
  • Increase and monitor the provision of reconstruction assistance to Afghan women and girls
  • Ensure that women are at the center of the continued reconstruction of Afghanistan and the peace process
  • Ensure to increase Afghan women’s role in the socio-political as well as security sphere of Afghanistan
  • Ensure to increase support to Afghan women’s rights, healthcare, and education

About the Campaign

The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) has been working to help Afghan Women and Girls since 1996. The organization launched a campaign under, Stop Gender Apartheid during the Taliban rule and continued to stand by Afghan women and girls after the Taliban regime collapsed. We continue to advocate for and support Afghan women. The Feminist Majority Foundation Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls has four major components: Public Education and Community Organizing, Public Policy Research and Strategy Development, National and Global Outreach, and support of Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan, especially to programs serving Afghan Women and Girls.

The campaign, chaired by Mavis Leno, was the first of its kind to build a U.S. grassroots constituency around a foreign policy issue of women’s rights. It successfully brought the Taliban regime’s atrocities against women and girls in Afghanistan to the attention of the United States and the world. In 2002, the Feminist Majority Foundation intensified its nationwide public education campaign for Afghan women and girls to win the full and permanent restoration of women’s rights, promote the leadership of women in the planning and governing of post-Taliban Afghanistan, increase and monitor the provision of emergency and reconstruction assistance to women and girls, and support the Afghan Ministry for Women’s Affairs, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and Afghan women-led non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Because of our work on behalf of Afghan women and girls, the Feminist Majority Foundation was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. 

With the support of literally tens of thousands, our work was key in stopping U.S. and U.N. recognition of the Taliban and in winning extensive funding for Afghan women’s programs, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA).  In total up to 2010, we have helped to win some $367 million in U.S. funding of Afghan women and girls’ programs. FMF’s work first to end gender apartheid in Afghanistan and then to support Afghan women and girls over nearly the last 20 years since the fall of the Taliban has had tangible impact. We are proud that today, Afghan women are leading efforts to further restore their human rights and demand to have equal representation in Afghanistan. We stand by them and continue to support and strengthen their voices and positions.

Public Education

Through our website, media interviews, news stories, op-eds, visibility events, speaking engagements, organizational briefings, online organizing, and public education materials, the Feminist Majority Foundation has worked to bring public attention to the rights of Afghan women in Afghanistan. Our online Daily Feminist News provides ongoing reports and updates on the situation of women’s rights and human rights in Afghanistan. Through our advocacy emails, we urge our members to speak with their congress members to continue to support Afghan women and girls and to ensure that women’s rights and positions are preserved and strengthened. 

Afghan Women’s Scholarship Program

For the last 20 years, this program has enabled young Afghan women to pursue higher education in the U.S. Our campaign asks U.S. colleges and universities to donate tuition and, if possible, room and board for Afghan women to study in the U.S. So far, over 126 Afghan women have benefited from this program in the United States. In addition to urging colleges and universities to provide scholarships to Afghan women, the Feminist Majority Foundation also provides funding for tuition, housing, and other supplemental assistance.

56 Afghan women have now graduated from four year U.S. colleges and universities, 12 have earned their associates degrees and are continuing their educations, 12 have achieved masters degrees, and two have earned Ph.D degrees, three have earned doctorate degrees in pharmacy and one has earned her MD degree. Many have returned to Afghanistan and are currently working in different capacities.

Policy Research and Strategy Development

From its inception, the Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls has been based on primary research. Throughout the campaign, we have interviewed Afghan women leaders and worked closely with them on how to make a positive change. In addition to working with leaders from on the ground, our staff has traveled to Afghanistan many times. Our ability to report first-hand on conditions in the region has significantly increased our credibility with policy makers, enhanced our ability to propose concrete policy changes, and strengthened our advocacy campaign.

Direct Assistance

The Feminist Majority Foundation has provided direct funding to Afghan women’s NGOs and other forms of direct assistance from its own funds. In addition to providing grants, we have provided technical assistance to small, women-led non-profits, helping with grant-writing and connecting them with potential funders.

Afghan Women’s Craft Project

Our Afghan Women’s Craft project raises additional funds for Afghan women and girls through on-line sales. Crafts are made by Afghan women or provided by Afghan organizations. All proceeds go directly to the organization that works with Afghan women and girls.

Organizational Outreach

The Feminist Majority Foundation has provided leadership for the feminist community on the issues faced by Afghan women and girls for the past 25 years. We have constantly briefed and provided materials to our colleagues in other women’s and human rights organizations about developments in the country and the need of Afghan women led organizations, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Coalition. We work in coalition with Afghan women’s organizations, as well as US and international women’s rights and human rights organizations.

Background: Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid

In 1997, under the “Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan,” we urged the US government and the U.N. to do everything in their power to restore the human rights of Afghan women and girls. We brought together more than 110 leading human rights and women’s organizations to condemn the Taliban’s human rights abuses against women and girls and to put pressure on the US and UN to end gender apartheid in Afghanistan.

The Campaign was successful in increasing public awareness about the plight of women and girls in Afghanistan, preventing US and UN recognition of the Taliban, increasing the admission of Afghan women and girls as refugees, increasing humanitarian aid to the region and pressuring UNOCAL, a California oil company to abandon its plans for an Afghan oil and gas pipeline which would have produced over $100 million annually in royalties for the Taliban.

With the fall of the Taliban regime, the Feminist Majority Foundation renamed its campaign and began working to convey to the world that Afghan women are a critical part of the solution for the future of Afghanistan.