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My Name is Sohalia: Daring to Break Barriers

In Afghanistan, women are being erased from public life. Poverty levels are high, girls' education is restricted, and women's rights have been rolled back decades under the de facto government's regime. 

94% of widows in Afghanistan are illiterate 

Source: Afghanistan Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor, Martyrs and Disabled, 2018 

95% of people in Afghanistan are not getting enough to eat - almost 100% in women-headed households 

Source: UN, 2022 

2%of business owners in Afghanistan are women 

Source: World Bank, 2018 

For women like Sohaila in our programme, getting up every day to open her shop, bringing in an income and putting her children through school are all acts of bravery. #SheDares to keep going, challenge traditional norms and the status quo, and work towards a brighter future.  

My Name is Sohalia


In Afghanistan, tradition often dictates the roles of women and men. I found myself in a unique situation where my husband and I worked tirelessly together to put food on the table.  

When my father gave me land for agriculture, I made the decision to build a house for my husband and children. Unfortunately, a few years later, my husband succumbed to an illness, and conflict erupted in our district. I lost family members, and many were injured.  

Everything crumbled on me. I was now faced with the harsh reality of raising children alone and managing the entire household. I had to sell the house and leave Peshawar, my ancestral home and the place where I had built dreams with my late husband.  

Life in the new district became unbearable for me and my children. 

Culturally, as a widow, it was expected of me to withdraw from public life and rely on the support of my extended family. However, I was determined to take a different path to provide for my children. 

I navigated the challenges, seeking employment opportunities to break the dependency cycle.  

In the village, life was tough; there were no facilities, my children did not go to school, and there were no employment opportunities. We faced numerous difficulties and challenges. I felt incredibly sad in the new village.  

After months of searching for opportunities in the streets, I discovered a chance that would change my life and my children's lives. Women for Women International's Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program is specifically designed to empower women with skills. 

Sohalia and her chickens
Sohalia taking care of her chickens. Credit: WfWI.

I decided to join the program to change the lives of my children. I enrolled in the poultry and tailoring class. Under the guidance of my trainers, I learned how to keep poultry and make clothes. Additionally, I was trained on how to start and maintain a business. During the training, I also got to learn about my rights as a woman, my right to own property, my right to control family finances, and how to prevent violence and domestic abuse.  

With newfound confidence and money saved from the monthly stipend from Women for Women International, I started my own business, keeping poultry and livestock for sale. Within a short time, the business flourished, and I would make a monthly profit of about $60.  

My life has transformed; my children are back in school, and I have built a new house for my family. Despite the challenges earlier in my life, I dared to take a second chance at life. 

I have sent my children back to school, and I am satisfied with my life.  

My success challenges entrenched perceptions about the capabilities of women and widows to take charge of their households. I dared to break societal norms and pursue an unconventional path that has led to my success.  

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Your monthly gift of $35 provides a woman with skills to support her family and creates sustainable change.