Noria and Lela are passionate about advocating for the young girls and underrepresented women in their community.

Noria, a 33-year-old schoolteacher and Lela, a grade 12 student at the same school, were the first women to join the Community Development Committee (CDC) in their community in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan.

When Noria first joined the CDC, she was met with resistance, “Initially, my family was concerned and did not agree for me to join the committee,” she shared. However, the committee saw the importance of having female voices, “The men in the committee recognized the exceptional role women could play in the committee and be a voice for the many women who remain under-represented and unheard at the community level,” explained Noria.

Noria and Lela attend a CDC meeting.

With continuous advocacy and consultation sessions, both women officially became members of the committee.

As new members, Noria and Lela wasted no time getting to work. During their day-to-day communications with the local families in their community, they saw a reoccurring pattern. Several families prevented their young daughters from attending school due to misconceptions about the impact of education on girls.

“Many of the parents here have conventional mindsets that believe that a woman and girl’s prime role is the care-taking duty of their home and family, and they cannot be anything beyond that,” described Noria.

Noria and Lela know how important education is for young girls. It provides opportunities for girls to realize their dreams and learn the skills they need to one day obtain employment, overcome poverty, and contribute to developing their country’s future.

“It is our goal now to identify these parents, talk to them, clear out their misconceptions and try to change their rigid beliefs,” stated Noria.

With the support of other CDC members, the duo is working towards their goal. So far, they have managed to convince the families of 55 students who had recently dropped out of school to re-enroll.

While the pair are committed to advocating for girl’s education, they are also proactively raising awareness about the implications of early child marriages and child labour in their community.

“We want to create a culture where every girl can go to school and learn without any difficulty,” Noria optimistically added.

Like Noria and Lela, PWS&D is committed to advocating and empowering women and girls around the world.

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