The current situation for women in Afghanistan is critical. Women face food insecurity, limits on freedom of speech, human rights violations, an economic crisis in the country, and rising crime rates. In response, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan is delivering online learning, distributing emergency aid, providing scholarships for girls and women for overseas studies, and working on evacuation efforts.
 
 
Najia Haneefi and Jennifer Simpson, co-chairs of the Ottawa chapter of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, described the efforts of the organization to the Rotary Club of Ottawa-Stittsville on February 23rd, 2022. Najia Haneefi is a feminist activist from Afghanistan and an International Development and Education Policy professional. In 2007, Najia moved to Ottawa where she completed a degree in International Development and Globalization, with a minor in Women’s Studies, at the University of Ottawa. Jennifer Simpson worked for more than 20 years with the Alberta Mental Health Board and the Alberta Hospital Ponoka. She retired as the manager of Quality Improvement, Evaluation and Planning at the Somerset West Community Health Centre in 2019.
 
 
Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan has 9 chapters across the country, and is committed to working to improve the lives of women in Afghanistan, who face sometimes insurmountable hurdles, made worse by the recent dramatic shift in leadership in the country. The group focuses in particular on literacy; technology for education; public engagement; and advocacy work. It has contributed to training over 10,000 teachers; distributed 300 library starter kits and 262 science laboratory sets; and established 40 community libraries. Recently, the group has focused on sharing resources in a digital library.
 
Supporters are urged to sign up for the group’s newsletter, donate, hold a Baking Bread event to raise funds, and consider opportunities to mentor newcomer Afghan women in their neighbourhoods. There is a particular need for language training and tutoring. The Ottawa chapter held four educational events last year. At the end of March, it will hold a celebration of Nowroz, or Persian New Year, and is looking for sponsors. The website is https://cw4wafghan.ca and the email address is community@cw4afghan.ca. After the stirring presentation, the Rotary Club of Ottawa-Stittsville supported the group with a donation.
 
The Rotary Club of Ottawa-Stittsville members actively work to make our community a better place. If you would like to learn more, visit stittsvillerotary.com, email us at info@stittsvillerotary.com, or join us on March 23rd when we host the Stittsville Business Association’s President, Andrea Greenhous, on Zoom.