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 stimulating monthly speakers, hold a musical luncheon and silent auction in the spring, and a summer evening garden reception and Autumn Colours Dinner at a member’s home by the Canal.


Monthly Meetings  Photos by Lizz Wilfert



                       NAC Musical Lunch and Silent Auction   Photos by Lizz Wilfert 


Photo by Alison Hobbs Photo by David Bickerton


 Summer Evening Garden Reception   Photos by Alison Hobbs      

Autumn Colours Dinner      Photos by Lizz Wilfert 

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.

Click here to learn more of the Gawhrshad Institute of Higher Education and our students. 

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


Photos Courtesy of Gawharshad Institute of Higher Education

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. 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 Women Gradates-USA in Salt Lake City, at electronic meetings, at area clubs, and at the CFUW AGMs in St. John’s, Victoria and Quebec City and Richmond.

      Istanbul seminar

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

         WG - USA

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

Over the years we have developed an extensive network of contacts.  We are fortunate to live in Ottawa where we have access to superb resources both with the Canadian Government and the Embassy of Afghanistan.  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 at our garden party. The current Ambassador is Fran├žois Rivest who is a follower on UWHAW Facebook.  In addition our work at the UN CSW has introduced us to significant Afghan NGO leaders and opened the doors to opportunities at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations.


Photo by David Bickerton   

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.

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


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