What's new - Fashion & Trends

Women for Women International helping women in war-torn countries

Since Women for Women International (WFWI) was founded 20 years ago, more than 380,000 women in war-torn countries have received practical and emotional support from the charity, with training courses in a range of vocations from hairdressing to beekeeping to advice on human rights.

In New York tonight, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton will be honoured at a gala dinner attended by Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and designer Donna Karan celebrating 20 years of the charity set up by Zainab Salbi after she read of the horrors of the rape camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina. A report conducted by KPMG, published last September , found WFWI's work had greatly improved economic opportunities for women, improved their health and had reduced levels of domestic and sexual violence in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Sudan.

Nigerian woman with hat

Women for Women International has helped 380,00 women around the world, including this Nigerian woman who has set up her own knitting business. Photograph: Women for Women

 Here is a sample profile of some of the 380,000 WFWI beneficiaries:


Zarghuna, 40, Kabul, Afghanistan

Zarghuna was six when her family forced her to marry her nine-year-old cousin to settle a family dispute. Despite the initial hardship, she grew to love her husband and at 16 gave birth to a daughter. When her husband was suddenly killed, she twice tried to kill herself.

"I had been feeling very depressed, and went to the hospital to seek treatment," she says. "The doctor advised me to connect with other women, so I could discuss with them my challenges and hear about the similar obstacles they were dealing with."

Using the business skills she learned through WFWI, and a $600 loan from a family member, Zarghuna started an embroidery business in Kabul which now employs 120 people. She recently invested just over $ 20,000 in machinery to expand the company, and says she has more than $30,000 in the bank.

"Many of my employees are women who work from their homes, which gives them the opportunity to contribute to their family's wellbeing."

Claire, 26, Eastern Province, Rwanda

After paying 3,000 Rwandan francs (about $5.00) a month to hire a sewing machine, Claire's tailoring business barely broke even. It was her only source of revenue and she struggled to provide for her family's basic needs.

After lessons in financial management she took out a loan for 200,000 francs, which she used to buy two sewing machines and raw materials. "Other members from my community bring their own cloth and I charge them to make dresses," she says.

Her business success and training led women in her community to choose Claire to represent them on her village's women's council, which is involved in skills training and raising awareness of women's rights in the area.

Hava, 46, Henc, Kosovo

Hava's in-laws weren't keen when she suggested it would be a good idea for women in her village to take classes. "They said it was not a good thing for a woman to go to people's houses and invite women to join the training, that people would start talking."

Yet the classes inspired the women to campaign for the council to supply rubbish containers. Despite initial derision from the men running the municipality, the containers were eventually placed in the village. Since then, Hava has attended agricultural classes and has been able to grow enough food for the family, and surplus to sell.


Tabu, 25, Yei River Country, Central Equatoria, South Sudan

Tabu dropped out of primary school because her family couldn't afford the fees, and started to brew alcohol. At 16, she married a customer, who was a violent drunk. They had three children. "[My husband] would beat me whenever he was drunk. As much as I tried to advocate for my rights, family and friends did not listen to me," she says.

When Tabu applied to attend the WFWI course in April, her husband was not pleased. "He was annoyed at me for attending the training and tore the ID card and battered me in the process." With their support of WTWI staff, she left her husband and went back to live with her parents.

She also received advice on setting up a business, and in July, using the stipend she was given for attending the training sessions, she began selling tea. She is now making a profit and has so far managed to save 300 South Sudanese pounds (a little over $100). Her aim is to buy a mobile phone.

See more in the 'What's new - Fashion & Trends' section


Be the first to add your comments

Comment on this article

Login to submit a comment


  Discover Card Miles Application


What we offer

GajGal is an expanding community of mothers helping mothers. Our motto “Get a Job | Get a Life” is based on the belief that for mothers wanting to get back into the workforce, finding a job with “the right level” of flexibility, empowers working mothers to live life on their own terms and better control their own destiny.
GajGal aims to address this “new reality” through four core components:

  • 1. Job Search and Matching tools to streamline finding the perfect fit for flexible work arrangements.
  • 2. Access to Benefits that in the traditional work environment have been provided by full time employers. GajGal helps to provide a critical mass of members to ensure access to a range of benefits options that we are continually working to expand and improve on.
  • 3. Working Mother Community to provide access to news, blogs and articles of interest and importance to working mothers and a social networking community that working mothers can interact with and draw on for support.
  • 4. The Entrepreneur Zone is for mothers aiming to start their own business and expand on the concepts of working mothers helping working mothers succeed.

Success stories

GajGal Testimonial

Shayne Duke
“Using your Benefits link made it easy to select from a wide range of health insurance offerings and narrow down the various plans available that best fit my needs. Being able to make a side by side comparison of the details further helped me make an informed decision on a plan with great rates. The application is swift and uncomplicated”

GajGal Testimonial

Amy Rogers
“ WOW this is a fantastic idea aimed at a true need. I have had a hard time preparing to go back to work after staying home with my two kids for the past 4 years. I am so excited to start adding my requirements and get started on the search. The Latest News and Benefits are an excellent idea. I would come here to read this even if I wasn't looking for a job right now”