Afghanistan: Shuhada


Girls in school - © Shuhada

In 1989, Dr. Sima Samar (Dr. Sima, as she is called in Afghanistan) founded the Shuhada Organization, her country's first non-governmental association. Shuhada is dedicated to making human rights a reality for the people of Afghanistan, with a primary focus on the empowerment of women and girls.

  • Education for Girls
  • Sheltering Women from Violence
  • Trainings for Human Rights

Education for Girls

Shuhada began by providing healthcare and education - two vital needs for women and their families in Afghanistan. During the Taliban regime, the Shuhada Organization ran underground schools for girls in Kabul.

With MADRE's support, Shuhada is constructing and renovating schools for girls, offering literacy training to women and bringing human rights education into communities so that Afghan women can transform their society from within.

Sheltering Women from Violence

Recognizing the devastating toll of violence against women, Shuhada opened Afghanistan's first women's shelter in 2003. The shelter provides a safe living and learning environment for women who are at risk for violence. Many of the women at the shelter had been made destitute by the war and by fierce discrimination against widows and other women who don't have a male "guardian" and cannot earn a living.

The shelter provides women with employment and classes in literacy, computers and English. Girls at the shelter go to school and several of the young women are studying nursing. A few have already graduated from nursing school and are now proudly practicing their profession.

Trainings for Human Rights

The shelter is a life-saving intervention for women who can reach its doors. But to ensure that all Afghan women enjoy freedom from violence, Shuhada runs a Women's Human Rights Education Program.

Last year, more than 2,000 women benefited from Shuhada's human rights training and legal consultations, resulting in a reduction of forced marriages and other forms of violence against women in the communities where Shuhada works.