University Women Helping Afghan Women

University Women Helping Afghan Women acts as both a Study and Interest Group and as an External Outreach Group. 

CFUW-Ottawa hosted the 2010 CFUW National AGM.  Our theme was “Value the past:  Shape the Future”. As we reviewed CFUW-Ottawa’s remarkable one hundred-year history, we looked within our Canadian borders and beyond to see where we could support other women shaping their future. Our example and focus led to Afghanistan, where Canada was serving as part of the NATO forces there.  Special AGM guest, Dr. Sima Samar (physician and Human Rights activist) communicated so movingly and intelligently the lack of human rights for Afghan women that many hearts, minds, and eyes were opened.  We learned that the best way we could empower young Afghan women was through education and so several CFUW-Ottawa members joined together to form University Women Helping Afghan Women.

University Women Helping Afghan Women continues to work to:

  • Learn about the issues facing women and girls in Afghanistan
  • Raise awareness of such locally, nationally and internationally
  • And to support the women and girls how we can, especially through scholarships for tertiary education at Dr. Samar’s Gawharshad University in Kabul

1. We continue to learn.  We hold monthly events with stimulating speakers:



2. We raise public awareness on the issues facing Afghan women and girls.         

We accept speaking engagements and work locally, nationally and internationally to raise public awareness of the issues facing Afghan women and girls.  We have presented at the Graduate Women International Triennial Conference in Istanbul, at the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York, at the Women Graduates-USA AGM in Salt Lake City, at AAUW in Connecticut, on electronic meetings, at area clubs, at CFUW AGMs across the country, and most recently at the CW4WAfghan Symposium and AGM in Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia.


   Probus Club, Ottawa           Workshop & Seminar with Dr. Samar at GWI Triennial, Istanbul



   United Nations CSW, New York         WG-USA, Salt Lake City               CW4WA, British Columbia

Over the years we have developed an extensive network of contacts We keep in touch with members doing similar work in other Graduate Women International NFAs around the world, and with the CFUW National Afghanistan Study Group.  We are fortunate to live in Ottawa where we have access to the superb resources of Global Affairs Canada, the Embassy of Afghanistan, the universities, and NGOs like the Aga Khan Foundation. Canadian Ambassadors to Afghanistan including Chris Alexander, William Crosbie, Deborah Lyons, Kenneth Neufeld and Francois Rivest, and Ambassadors of Afghanistan to Canada, including most recently, former Ambassador Shinkai Karokhail, have supported our work and attended our events. In addition, our participation at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women has introduced us to significant Afghan NGO leaders and opened doors to opportunities at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations.



Event Guests over the years include: Canada’s first Ambassador to Afghanistan, Chris Alexander, activist and journalist, Sally Armstrong,  former Canadian Ambassadors Deborah Lyons & Kenneth Neufeld, Minister Monsef, Patricia Leidl, and former Afghanistan Ambassador to Canada, H.E..Shinkai Karokhail,  Diane Harper GAC, Minister Monsef, former Ambassador Rivest, current Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States H.E.Roya Rahmani and former Canadian Ambassador of Canada to Afghanistan, William Crosbie.

3. We fund raise to raise scholarships for girls at Gawharshad University, Kabul, and the post graduate Fran Manning Scholarship in women’s defence Law.

We hold bridge luncheons and used book sales at our General Meetings.  In 2018-19 our 2 main fundraisers were the Musical Luncheon and Silent Auction, and this year, the Dinner for Hope.


                    Musical Luncheon and Silent Auction at the Royal Ottawa Golf Club


                                   Dinner for Hope at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club

Over the last years we have held several Summer Evening Garden Receptions, and Autumn Colours/Afghan Talk/ Sunday Suppers in a member’s home.



Fundraising proceeds go directly to Dr. Samar’s Gawharshad University in Kabul to provide scholarships for carefully selected underprivileged young women who are determined to make a difference in the country they call home, and also the Fran Manning Post Graduate Scholarship in Women’s Defence law

As of September 2019, with the help of many:

  • 36 UWHAW scholarship girls have graduated
  • 40 are currently studying plus 2 postgraduate students in Women’s Defence Law
  • 9 new students on full scholarships
  • 8 new students on 50% scholarships
  • 3 new students replace 3 who have left



         Our University Scholarship Students Past and Present with Dr. Samar, university founder              and our mentor


The two current Fran Manning Post Graduate Scholarship Students in Women’s Defence Law

Photos: Courtesy of Sandy Millen, Lizz Wilfert, Alison Hobbs, Alice Bolt, Ulle Baum, David Bickerton and Gawharshad University

If you are a member of CFUW-Ottawa and would like to join this very worthwhile project, please contact:  We offer great learning opportunities and fun events for those who wish to get involved.

UWHAW is also a Study and Interest group.  Click here to link to this group.

Like us on Facebook: UWHAW   Follow us on Twitter: @4UWHAW


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