Group of women and girls in Pakistan waving

This International Women’s Month, Join CAI in Celebrating the Women and Girls of Central Asia

Throughout the month of March, Central Asia Institute is celebrating all the incredibly inspiring and dedicated women and girls of Central Asia. But to fully understand the extraordinary things they are achieving each day, it’s important to first understand the enormity of the challenges they face. 

Imagine for a moment being a girl in Afghanistan today, a country often ranked as the worst country in the world to be a woman. If you are lucky enough to be among the minority of children enrolled in school, you will be banned from studying beyond Grade Six because you are a girl. By the time you are 16, there is a good chance you will have been forced into early marriage to a man far your senior and not of your choice. Most likely you will have little to no control over how often you get pregnant. And the likelihood that you’ll die in childbirth is among the highest in the world. You’ll face high rates of violence and will be denied access to healthcare, work, and freedom of movement.

girl sitting on floor

For females born in the remote, impoverished regions of Pakistan, the situation is not a whole lot brighter. Less than half of girls attend school and for those who do, an estimated 80% are forced to drop out before high school. As a woman in neighboring Tajikistan, you’ll have few employment opportunities, and if you do have a job, your income will be far below that of men, offering little hope for pursuing your dreams or helping to lift your family out of poverty.

But amazingly, the girls and women of Central Asia overcome these dark forces every day. We’d like you to meet a few of them.

Zehra’s Season for Success

Zarafshon’s Future Looks Delicious

None of these programs would have been possible without the unwavering and generous support of CAI’s donors. This women’s month, we also celebrate them for believing in the women and girls of Central Asia throughout the year. They are proof that when we reach across cultural and geographic divides to support each other, we can start to shift the norms and expectations in regions where women have been systematically excluded from so many parts of society. Together, we can clear the way for women like Wajmah, Zehra, and Zarafshon to blaze new trails for themselves and the next generation of women.

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