As an organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of disenfranchised Afghan women and girls, Women for Afghan Women (WAW) has worked since its founding in 2001 to provide life-changing, community-based programs to thousands of Afghan women, children and families throughout Afghanistan and the United States (US). Amidst unprecedented challenges to our work brought on by the political, economic and humanitarian upheaval that has gripped Afghanistan since August 2021, WAW is increasing its efforts to help Afghans in the United States, and finding new options to help clients in Afghanistan.
Supporting women and girls in Afghanistan: WAW is partnering with organizations working in Afghanistan to expand our reach and provide humanitarian support to women, girls, and families in need, including the critical distribution of food and other healthcare goods. Like many other humanitarian and development organizations, WAW has been obligated to limit and adjust its programs in Afghanistan, and we continue to assess on a daily basis the best ways for our team to work in a way that holds true to our commitment to women and girls, while ensuring staff and clients are not put in harm’s way.
Supporting Afghan women and girls in the United States: WAW has rapidly scaled up its US operations and support for Afghan women, girls, and families in the face of an unprecedented flow of Afghan arrivals. In Virginia, we have opened a new resource center that will serve thousands of Afghan refugees who now live in the region. We’re also helping to relocate and support transitions of Afghans across the US to new homes, and support other refugee arrival efforts with our cultural and gender expertise.
This rapid growth of WAW’s work in the United States expands on the longstanding work of WAW’s New York Community Center (NYCC) in Fresh Meadows, Queens, New York, which is a lifeline for local Afghan-Americans and Muslim-Americans, as well as other local immigrant and refugee communities. WAW’s NYCC provides its clients with critical case management, empowerment classes (such as ESL, Driver’s Education, Citizenship classes), dynamic youth leadership programs, and legal support. The NYCC is also active in mobilizing the community, organizing events, networking with partners, and coalition-building. The Center has cultural and language competencies in English, Farsi/Dari, Pashto, Urdu, Hindi, and Spanish.
Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, WAW has seen a 300% increase in requests for its services and programs. The takeover created a humanitarian and global refugee crisis, with over 80,000 Afghans arriving in the US between 2021-2022. These Afghan refugees and evacuees are arriving to host countries with an immediate need for comprehensive, culturally-sensitive, and linguistically-appropriate support to rebuild their lives. To meet this need WAW extended our services to the Washington, DC area by opening a new community center in Alexandria, Virginia. Today, our Virginia Community Center (VACC) is providing vital services to newly-arriving Afghans in the area, and supports already-established Afghan and other immigrant communities, with case management support, immigration legal services, and mental health counseling, with plans to extend services already in place.