University Women Helping Afghan Women

CFUW-Ottawa hosted the 2010 National AGM. Our theme was "Value our Past: Shape the Future". As we reviewed our own remarkable one hundred year history, we were encouraged to look within our Canadian borders and beyond to see where we could support other women in shaping their future. Our example and focus led to Afghanistan. Guest speaker, Dr. Sima Samar (physician and Human Rights advocate) communicated so movingly and intelligently the lack of human rights for Afghan women that many hearts, minds and eyes were opened.

Afterwards, many members expressed an interest in continuing to study the issue, and to look for ways to help the plight of Afghan women and girls. The University Women Helping Afghan Women group was formed as a Study and Interest Group. It remains very much as such (see Study and Interest Groups) and has also evolved into an External Outreach Group with activities to help Afghan women and girls through fundraising and advocacy. 

We host superb monthly speakers, interact on occasion with CW4WA, hold a musical luncheon and silent auction in the spring, and a summer evening garden reception at a member’s home by the water.  

   NAC Musical lunch NAC Silent Auction                   NAC Musical Lunch and Silent Auction   Photos by Alison Hobbs

    Garden with tray        Summer Evening Garden Reception   Photos by David Bickerton      

Fundraising proceeds go directly to Dr. Samar's Gawharshad Institute of Higher Education in Kabul to provide scholarships for carefully selected underprivileged young women who are determined to make a difference in the country they call home.

At a recent presentation to the UWHAW group we were given an updated look at where our past scholarship winners are now. Click here to see the presentation.

                                               Graduation Day for  "our Girls" at Gawharshad, January 2015                                                                                                Photos by Farah Malik


Some of our current scholarship students

We accept speaking engagements and work locally, nationally and internationally to raise public awareness on the issues facing Afghan women and girls. Working with CFUW we were instrumental in getting the story of Afghan women on the agenda of a highly respected forum in Istanbul through international doors opened to us by GWI (formerly IFUW). We have presented a Parallel Session at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, spoken at Women Gradates-USA AGM, at area clubs and at the CFUW AGMs in St. John’s, Victoria and Quebec City.

      Istanbul seminar

Istanbul: IFUW Workshop (left) & Seminar (right) with Dr. Samar           

         WG - USA

              UN CSW Parallel Session, NYC                       WG-USA, Salt Lake City

Canada’s former Ambassador to Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, valued our work and kept in touch. She was followed in this role by Kenneth Neufeld, both seen below. The current Ambassador is Fran├žois Rivest.


Photo by David Bickerton   

If you are a member of CFUW-Ottawa and would like to join this very worthwhile project, please contact:

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