Several Afghans have recently graduated from an online business course
Leaders of an Oklahoma nonprofit are singing the praises of more than two dozen Afghan women for their determination to take online business courses 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 nonprofit Institute for Economic Empowerment, with Terry Neese as founder and chief executive officer. The Oklahoma businesswoman praised Afghan women for taking the virtual course while navigating the changing political and cultural landscape of their home country.
“It really is a miracle,” Neese said.
“Your presence at this peace graduation ceremony is proof that not only do you have what it takes to master the art of business, but also that you 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, the Peace Through Business National Facilitator for Afghanistan, led the virtual ceremony, which lasted about an hour.
Neese said Wafeq graduated from the first course of the first Peace Through Business program in 2007. She said the Afghan native “did an amazing job this year despite the situation in Afghanistan.”
For his part, Wafeq hailed the Afghan women who were determined to complete the business course. Typically, they would have met face-to-face, but participated in the distance learning courses from their homes and businesses due to the current uncertain cultural and political climate for women in Afghanistan. The course has been designed to help them create realistic and effective business plans and provide them with information to help them achieve their business goals.
Wafeq said the students’ businesses were varied. Among them, the businesses included a women’s restaurant, a livestock business, a food processing company, a line of organic soaps and skincare, and a hand-embroidered bedding set company.
Special guest at the ceremony was Sara Greengrass, executive director of the American Council of Afghan Women. The council, which is based at Georgetown University, was founded in 2002 as a non-partisan public-private partnership that brings together governments, civil societies and private sectors around the goal of supporting education, health care, economic empowerment and leadership of Afghan women and girls. .
“As Manizha said and you all experienced it, it’s been a lot more difficult in the last six months, and so the very first thing I want to do is congratulate you all,” Greengrass said. .
“Your accomplishments and accomplishments have not gone unnoticed and it is truly a celebration of you.”
Greengrass said the Peace Through Business program was a key part of the overall mission to support Afghan women and girls.
“It’s a popular program for businesswomen,” she said. “We are very proud to have you as a member and your continued dedication to Afghan women and the future.”
Neese said she was encouraged by the perseverance of Afghan women. She envisioned the Peace Through Business program to continue as long as there were women like the recent graduates who would embrace this program and use what they had learned to help empower other women throughout their country.
“Over the past 16 years of working in Afghanistan, we have seen so much progress in the area of women’s rights and opportunities,” Neese said.
“Women have gone to college and started businesses. They have become involved in politics and contributed significantly to the economy. With these freedoms once again restricted, we feel compelled to support Afghan women and to continue to support their lives and livelihoods.”