TU helps launch University Network for Afghan Women – The Collegian online

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In partnership with 10 other colleges and universities from across the U.S. and beyond, The University of Tulsa launched the University Network for Afghan Women as part of a collaboration with the American University of Afghanistan. Hosted by the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, the network supports Afghan women and girls who face some of the worst discrimination in the world.

The U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council is a nonpartisan public-private partnership that convenes governments, civil society and the private sector around the goal of supporting Afghan women and girls’ education, health care, economic empowerment and leadership.

This month, representatives from TU and other member institutions met to discuss initial strategies for the network’s first year, including collaborating on course offerings, sharing best practices on creating and funding scholarships for Afghan students and supporting Afghan women artists through the I Stand with You campaign.

Danielle Macdonald

“The University of Tulsa is honored to join the University Network for Afghan Women as a founding partner,” said Danielle Macdonald, associate professor of anthropology and liaison for TU’s Afghan refugees. “TU has hosted 18 Afghan students in the past two years, providing them with educational opportunities and enhancing multicultural communities on our campus. Women in Afghanistan face severe restrictions on education, including bans on attending university, and as an academic institution, we have an ethical responsibility to help Afghan women access education wherever possible. Through collaboration and dialogue with other universities, we hope to sustain and expand our efforts to empower Afghan women through education.”

In addition to TU, founding members include American University of Afghanistan, Arizona State University, Boston University, Georgetown University, New York University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northwood University, Oklahoma State University, Stanford Center for South Asia and the Center for Governance and Markets at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as partner organizations Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund, ArtLords, the Institute of International Education and the 30 Birds Foundation.

Following their return to power in 2021, the Taliban banned girls over the age of 12 from attending school and restricted women’s rights to work, move freely and go to public places. Many people have fled Afghanistan, with around 125,000 seeking refuge in the United States.

“During the upheaval that we’re facing in our world today, it’s critical to continue to focus on all who are marginalized and to find ways to lift them up,” says Phyllis Magrab, vice chair of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council based at Georgetown University. “Our specific focus is on the women and girls in Afghanistan who have been deprived of their most fundamental human rights and face significant challenges related to their health and human development.”

In response to this emerging crisis, U.S. universities have helped evacuate and support new arrivals and addressed the oppression and economic hardship of the 19 million women and girls remaining in Afghanistan.

Members of the network support Afghan women in a variety of ways, including:

  • hosting the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council and boosting council members’ education, health, economic empowerment and civic leadership programs for women in Afghanistan
  • providing online university education and English language training for Afghan women
  • hosting the Alliance for Education of Women in Afghanistan, seeking to expand alternative educational opportunities for Afghan women and girls
  • training Afghan women entrepreneurs
  • providing scholarships and fellowships to Afghan women scholars and students
  • hosting the Alliance for Afghan Women’s Economic Resilience, providing online education and mentorship opportunities for women in Afghanistan
  • offering Afghan studies programs with a gender focus
  • advocating for the right of Afghan women to education and other basic human rights

The network plans to meet regularly to collaborate on current and additional projects.

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