World Humanitarian Day, which takes place every year on August 19th, recognizes the workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and mobilizes people to advocate for humanitarian action. On this year's World Humanitarian Day, the UN and its partners are advocating for the protection of civilians (PoC), aid workers, and all those affected by conflict with the hashtag #NotATarget.
Women for Women International joins this effort and supports the work of our local national staff who are on the ground, supporting and protecting the lives of women in the countries we work in everyday. This World Humanitarian Day, we celebrate the courage of our international staff. Below is the story of a male staff member, Ahmad (names have been changed for safety and security) in Afghanistan, who describes why he has joined our organization.
Ahmad was born in Nangarhar province to conservative family. During the civil war in Afghanistan, his family sought refuge in Pakistan. The teenage Ahmad wanted to learn new technologies and study new languages but his conservative grandfather did not allow it. Though Ahmad struggled, he decided to learn how to speak English and took computer science courses without his grandfather’s knowledge.
Ahmad graduated from high school and enrolled in an information-technology institute in Peshawar, Pakistan, where he was able to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Like many Afghans, Ahmad had to fight forced marriage. When he was just a child, his family had agreed to an engagement on his behalf. When he grew up, Ahmad fell in love with someone else and fought for his right to marry her instead. As a result, he was marginalized by his community. He was not allowed to visit his family or his village for three years because of his decision to break off the arranged engagement.
“Against my family wish, I got married. I left behind all norms and customs and restrictions of my conservative and protective family. Now, I’m very happy with my beloved wife and our four children,” Ahmad says. He has since repaired the relationship with his family.
When Ahmad joined Women for Women International in Afghanistan, he began working by building connections and a good rapport with community elders and governmental and national organizations. He is proud to be serving women in a leadership position with the WfWI Afghanistan office.
“My wife’s love inspired me to follow my objectives and join WfWI, to support women and improve the program and operation of the country office,” Ahmad says.
Ahmad believes in gender equality and human rights. He uses his position in his community and organization to encourage women to build their capacity for a better future. He knows that working for women’s rights can be dangerous, especially in Afghanistan’s patriarchal society and without security and sustainable peace. Like most Afghans, he is aware of the risks of suicide attacks that harms civilians in Kabul and around the country and targeted attacks on humanitarians. However, these risks have not deterred him.
“Women for Women International is one of my favorite organizations. I can empower and support women in my country with the work we do. I am proud to be serving the women of Afghanistan and wish to always encourage women to build their capacity for a better future.”