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Review for Alliance For International Women's Rights, East Chatham, NY, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I am writing on behalf of the Alliance for International Women’s Rights (AIWR) and in support of the 2012 Women’s Empowerment Campaign Award.

I have been involved in the AIWR for over a year and have to say it is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my professional life. The woman who I have worked with in Afghanistan is truly remarkable and her commitment is nothing short of inspirational. My goal is to help empower her in some small way, so that her ability to communicate in English provides a chance to expand her options in a country with extremely limited opportunities for women. Our one-on-one time via Skype is valuable to us both.

As Westerners, I think we cannot always understand the depth of challenges and obstacles Afghan women face. Custom and culture requires specific permission from a father or husband to even attend the English language computer sessions. And physically getting to the center places them in serious harm’s way since the culture holds women in very low esteem. It is a fact that women have been killed and maimed trying to become educated in Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, the challenges do not end with safe arrival, since we often experience technical difficulties. Very low bandwidth means that classes are held via Skype with audio only (or instant messaging), but intermittent electric power and malfunctioning of low tech equipment such as headsets, means that a class may have to be cancelled. These disappointments happen all too often and it is our hope that funding for new devices will alleviate the problem.

At the same time, it is so rewarding to hear the joy in her voice when we are able to successfully connect and make progress. These women are so committed to the program that it becomes an inspiration to me to work even harder to ensure success. The language lessons and cultural exchanges encourage these women to succeed in so many areas of their lives. This is a wonderful organization and I am very pleased to be a part of this important work and fully support the AIWR and its goals.

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Role:  Volunteer