At the young age of 20, Najiba Sahil* is fully committed to helping the women of her country. Coming from Samarkandia, a small rural village in Balkh Province, the young teacher has fought furiously to reach where she is now! Today, Najiba is among the 30 instructors—who have been carefully vetted by the Promote Women’s Leadership Development (WLD) ‘Royesh’ pre-service delivery program—to teach the innovative leadership and life skills program in thirty schools in five cities in Afghanistan.
While growing up, Najiba says she has always remained acutely aware that her true difficulties lay in the fact that she was born a female. “Everything we do requires permission,” she said, “permission from our fathers, our brothers, our uncles, cousins and even sons. I can quite honestly say that the problems I face arise because I am a woman!” Najiba dreams to return to her village and share her knowledge, gained from the Royesh training. For her, teaching is a calling—an opportunity to open young minds to alternative ways of viewing the world and of questioning norms that leave so many women disenfranchised and devoid from opportunities to live their lives as they wish and be safe. “In my village, it is ignorance that creates so many problems for women,” Najiba says; “When women become aware of their rights, everything will change,” she continues.
Like many of the participants, Najiba had to overcome many obstacles to come this far—with obtaining an education, that started early on when she went to primary school and continued till the time she completed her university education. Added to that were her family’s financial instability. However, crossing all her hurdles, at present, not only is Najiba the only one among her thirteen siblings to graduate from university, but she is also the only person from her entire village to ever attend a post-secondary institution!
The Promote-WLD Royesh (‘seedling’ in Dari and Pashto) training program instills the skills and self-confidence in adolescent girls and young women to help them create their own place among Afghanistan’s next generation, especially in becoming private and public sector leaders. The first of its kind in Afghanistan, the program has been endorsed by the country’s Ministry of Education and will graduate 7,000 young women over the next three years. The six-week Pre-Service Delivery Program, a part of Royesh, introduces instructors to the course curriculum and effective facilitation techniques to help students learn independently and with confidence.
*Name changed for security reasons