wld-july_compressedBefore 19-year Shazia enrolled in the Promote-Women’s Leadership Development (WLD) Jawana (meaning “sapling” in Dari and Pashto) program, she never believed that her dreams of running her own business would be realized. After graduating from the three-month Jawana program, she began to think differently—but still faced a number of obstacles that stood in the way of her aspirations. However, today, Shazia is successfully on her way to fulfilling her dreams. Soon after graduating from the Jawana program, she qualified for the WLD mentorship program, which is designed to support graduates by connecting them with mentors to receive guidance from highly respected and skilled professionals from fields like business, healthcare, government and academia. All mentors are dedicated to the notion that the future of Afghanistan depends on the degree to which young women like Shazia can reach a state where they can play influential roles in the country’s decision-making toward its progress. Thus far, WLD has created opportunities for 94 Jawana participants to be under the guidance of 22 mentors.

Shazia’s mentor was Ms. Manizha Wafiq, an activist and entrepreneur. Ms. Wafiq, in partnership with WLD Mentorship Coordinator Shabaana Sedique, encouraged Shazia’s family to allow her to take part in the mentorship program, because they knew how this opportunity could benefit such an ambitious young woman. Under Ms. Wafiq’s watchful eye, Shazia and two other mentees learned how to develop a business plan, raise capital, spot opportunities and most importantly, develop a ‘never-give-up’ attitude, which is critical for a successful career in business.

With the support of her mentor, Shazia began working as an intern at Leading Entrepreneur of Afghanistan for Development (LEAD). Even though Shazia started her journey toward her professional goals, she still longed to pursue higher education and receive a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. Once again, Ms Wafiq, Shazia’s mentor helped her with her dream for more education and got her admitted at the Gawharshad University, giving her the full financial support for the four years of university!

Promote’s Women Leadership Development (WLD) task order will enable Afghanistan’s most talented young women to become future leaders in government, business, and civil society. Over five years, 25,000 women with exceptional leadership potential and commitment to positive social change will be recruited and enrolled in the program.The aim of WLD is to provide them with the knowledge, skills, and networks they need to enter the upper echelons of decision—making in all sectors of society. As they move into decision making roles, they will be empowered to ensure that Afghan women’s voices are represented in government, business, and social institutions throughout the country.

*Name changed for security reasons