Neswan Social Association, Afghanistan – Educational work for a self-determined life

Aqelah Nazari-Hossain Dad, voluntary project coordinator, during her visit at TDF in July 2018. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMES"Afghan women are brave women. Under the Taliban, we established a secret school for girls, which later resulted in Neswan Social Association. We have achieved a lot, but there is still a long path in front of us until we achieve freedom and equality for women in Afghanistan.The road is long and winding, but we walk it with sincere courage.“Project area: Shahrak, Afghanistan (located west of Herat)

Supported by TDF since: 2004

Target group: girls and women, especially members of the Shiite Hazara minority, affected by poverty and unemployment


  • According to a Thomas Reuters study (2018), Afghanistan is the second most dangerous country for women worldwide.
  • Human Rights Watch reports, that nearly 90% of Afghan women report human rights abuses, like forced marriage, sexual abuse, forced prostitution and abduction.
  • Despite the Law on Elimination of Violence against Women (signed into force in 2009) and the legislation on gender equality, attacks on women and feminist activists or politicians are frequent. Police and law enforcement are not active enough regarding violence against women and religious Islamic leaders still have significant influence on the political environment.
  • Close to 80% of Afghan women are illiterate (UNESCO) and currently only 21.7% of all girls have access to education.
  • Women constantly fear the resurgence of a fundamentalist (Taliban) regime.

Project activities:

A secret school for girls under the Taliban regime gave the impetus for the founding of the Neswan Social Association in 2003, which has been made possible with the help of the German-Afghan Initiative (DAI), Freiburg.

The women’s education centre pursues several objectives:

  • Access to educational training: The association offers, amongst others, reading and writing classes, as well as English, computer and accounting classes to women who lack the possibilities or financial means.
  • Access to vocational training: Sewing, embroidery, cellphone repairing and many more classes are offered in order to support the women on their way to economic independence.
  • Raising awareness for women’s rights: Workshops inform girls and women about their rights and open the possibility to reflect upon female role models in the local socio-cultural and religious context. This way, discriminative role models are questioned, and the self-confidence of the participants is strengthened.
  • Retail space: The basement of the association’s building serves as a retail space, where women can showcase and sell their handcrafted products.
  • Meeting point: The women centre in Shahrak is a place of exchange for women in distress, e.g. because of domestic violence or discrimination. It is one of the few places in the region, where women can escape rigid and male-dominated structures.
  • Free development: Neswan Social Association offers a space where women can recognize and unfold their full potential.


  • Many girls and women have taken part in the courses to prepare for higher education or a new job. Former course participants continue organizing debates in the facilities of Neswan Social Association.
  • The work of the Neswan Social Association has been challenging and gradually changing the perception of women’s role models in the city of Shahrak. Women have been invited regularly to public events, and political authorities visit the centre on occasions like the World Women’s Day.
  • Also, the legal advice services offered by the centre have established themselves successfully in the city.

Project leader: Aqelah Nazari-Hossain Dad

Contacts: Voluntary project coordinator Aqelah Nazari-Hossain Dad (
or TERRE DES FEMMES – International Cooperation (

Your support is needed:

  • for the operational activities of the women’s centre
  • to keep up the diverse course offer
  • for the acquisition of sewing machines and other educational materials
  • for the promotion of the sewn products
  • for the remuneration of qualified teachers and instructors

Support the Neswan Social Association with a one-time donation or contribute regularly and become a sponsor.

You can also donate with the key word “Afghanistan” on the following account:

IBAN DE35 8309 4495 0103 1160 00