Simply put, the Alliance for International Women's Rights changes women's lives for the better. An incredibly dedicated staff of volunteer experts commit their time and energy to help women in Afghanistan reach their potential against all odds in a dangerous and unforgiving environment. Recently, over 40% of the Afghan women in the program found jobs or scholarships. The program also helps to break down the cultural barriers between Americans and Afghans in a way that builds trust and long-term friendships. It is really a stunning example of how people can make a real, important difference in this world.
The Alliance for International Women's Rights is a powerful example of how one person can truly change the world. Its founder, Lisa Herb, has worked tirelessly for years to help connect Afghan women and girls, as well as others from throughout Central Asia, to their Western counterparts in the USA and Canada. Thanks to her and the dedicated team of Alliance volunteers, countless young women have now had the opportunity to safely connect with teachers and mentors half a world away through the Internet. The Alliance's work is invaluable - and a shining example for any one else who longs to make our world a better, safer place.
So many people talk about their desire to change the world. My sister, Lisa Herb, is actually doing it. After spending years working and traveling throughout Central Asia, Lisa was determined to help women in that region improve their worlds. Despite being a busy wife, mother and attorney, she still found time to create and run the Alliance for International Women's Rights (www.aiwr.org), which is dedicated to furthering women's rights throughout Central Asia, and primarily Afghanistan. The beauty of the Alliance is it safely connects Afghan women with their Western counterparts by utilizing Skype and the Internet for the majority of their training and mentoring programs. I hope you'll take the time to explore the powerful work being accomplished by the Alliance, and learn what one woman with one computer can do to change her world.
As the Executive Director of AIWR, I have seen first hand the tremendous impact that both our volunteers and the Afghan participants have on each other. Our volunteers are all professional teachers and attorneys, who donate their time and skills to educate and mentor Afghan women and girls via Skype. The relationships that are formed through these weekly meetings are life changing for both students and teachers. The Afghan women and girls in our programs, who risk their lives to educate themselves, soak up every drop of knowledge and encouragement offered by their teachers and mentors, and directly apply their new skills to obtain employment or seek further education. I am constantly humbled by their tremendous courage, tenacity and unconquerable spirits. The teachers and mentors often report that the experience of working directly with their Afghan students has forever changed their view of not only Afghanistan, but of women's rights and what it means to strive every moment of every day to try to obtain basic human rights. If I could, I would award each and every volunteer a five star rating. As for the Afghan women and girls in our programs, there are simply not enough stars to reflect their achievements and strength of spirit.
As a board member, I have witnessed the significant impact that AIWR’s long-distance Empowerment Programs have in the lives of Afghan women and girls. For example, of the 101 Afghan women and girls who participated in the English Program in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2011, over 43 (or 42%) have already used their enhanced English skills to obtain employment or education scholarships. This statistic is remarkable given the restrictions on women’s education and employment in Kandahar and the scarcity of employment or educational opportunities. The professional English teachers who donate their time to meet with their Afghan students on Skype twice a week are incredible and fully deserve a five star review for making the English Program such a success. But the true heroes of the English Program are the indomitable Afghan women and girls who risk their lives on a daily basis to seek education and employment. They deserve a 100 star review.
The Alliance is providing support for Afghanistan's greatly beleagured women through mentoring, training, and other support. through the use of long-distance Skype technology, women in Afghanistan are learning new skills, developing existing ones, and learning English so they can reach out to the international community to communicate their experiences and recieve greater support. The Alliance uses only highly skilled international professionals and experts to provide unique, one-to-one training for each Afghan woman and girl in their program. Through this mentoring, the Alliance also crosses cultural boundaries and links Western women with Afghan women, greatly increasing their shared understanding of each other's lives and experiences.
AIWR supports women leaders and future women leaders in developing countries, where women's rights are often times almost non-existent. Through volunteers and a tireless leader in Ms. Lisa Herb, the group brings hope and opportunity where there would otherwise be none. Numerous volunteers take time to reach out through Skype and interact and teach young women who seek to make a change in their own communities. This organization shows how the world is a "small place."
Yet, the benefits extend beyond those individuals. The opportunities that this organization creates are connections between people of different cultures, which enrich all individual's lives.
The Alliance for International Women's Rights offers a unique and wonderful way for women across the globe to support each other through long-distance volunteer programs. I have helped found and run the Alliance's long-distance English and Mentor Programs, which offer free, live, one-on-one English classes and mentoring sessions to Afghan women and girls. Twice a week, Afghan women and girls meet with a trained teacher or mentor via Skype for individualized English classes and mentoring sessions, designed to empower Afghan women and help them reach out to the international community for ideas, information, support and to help them share their experiences with the world.