Leaders of an Oklahoma nonprofit sing the praises of more than two dozen Afghan women for their determination to complete business classes online while in a country with a changing political and cultural climate.
Afghan women recently participated in a virtual graduation ceremony for an eight-week business course offered online by the Oklahoma City-based Peace Through Business program.
Peace Through Business is under the umbrella of the nonprofit Institute for Economic Empowerment, with Terry Neese as founder and executive director. The Oklahoma businesswoman congratulated the Afghan women for completing the virtual course as they navigated the changing political and cultural landscape of their native country.
“This is truly a miracle,” Neese said.
“Your presence at this Peace Through Graduation ceremony is evidence that you not only have what it takes to master the art of business, but you also have the resilience and strength to keep moving forward in the face of obstacles. You must be very proud of yourselves and I can tell you that we are very proud of you.
Manizha Wafeq, Peace Through Business Country Facilitator for Afghanistan, led the virtual ceremony, which lasted about an hour.
Neese said Wafeq graduated from the first year of the first Peace Through Business program in 2007. He said the Afghan native “has done an amazing job this year despite the situation in Afghanistan.”
For her part, Wafeq showered praise on the Afghan women who were determined to finish the business course. Ordinarily, they would have met in person, but they participated in classes remotely from their homes and businesses due to the current uncertain cultural and political climate for women in Afghanistan. The class was designed to help you create realistic and effective business plans and provide you with information to help you achieve your business goals.
Wafeq said the students’ businesses were varied. Among them, the businesses included a restaurant that caters to women, a livestock company, a food processing business, a line of organic soaps and skin care products, and a hand-embroidered bedding company.
A special guest at the ceremony was Sara Greengrass, executive director of the Afghan Women’s Council of America. The council, which is based at Georgetown University, was founded in 2002 as a nonpartisan public-private partnership that brings together governments, civil societies and private sectors around the goal of supporting education, health care, empowerment economy and the leadership of Afghan women and girls. .
“As Manizha said and all of you have experienced, that’s been a lot harder in the last six months, so the first thing I want to do is congratulate you all,” Greengrass said.
“Your accomplishments and achievements have not gone unnoticed and this truly is a celebration for you.”
Greengrass said the Peace Through Business program was a key component in the overall mission of supporting Afghan women and girls.
“It’s a highly regarded program for women in business,” she said. “We are very proud to have them as members and their continued dedication to Afghan women and the future.”
Neese said she was encouraged by the Afghan women’s perseverance. She envisioned that the Peace Through Business program would continue as long as women like the recent graduates embraced the program and used what they learned to help empower other women across their country.
“During the last 16 years of working in Afghanistan, we have seen a lot of progress in the area of women’s rights and opportunities,” said Neese.
“Women went to college and started businesses. They became involved in politics and contributed significantly to the economy. With those freedoms restricted again, we feel compelled to support Afghan women and continue our support of their lives and livelihoods.” .