CARE- Global Leaders Network and Supporting Girls in Afghanistan
Social justice issues are crucial to any nation, whether that be a developed one or a developing one. For the former, and for any nation blessed with excess, focusing on providing aid, saving lives and defeating poverty should be at the top of the list. And Care is doing just that through its Global Leaders Network.
The CARE Global Leaders Network is an active community committed to supporting CARE’s work to enhance global security and continue America’s tradition of leadership toward peace, stability, and better lives--which is under threat right now.
Recently, Seele interviewed, Beth Solomon, the Managing Director of External Affairs and Development for the Network. The interview was done in conjunction with a reception that the Network held last night at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, DC, supporting Afghan Girls and Their Dreams.
Seele Magazine: How important is humanitarian aid and development aid in saving lives and strengthening international security?
Beth Solomon: When people are desperate, they can do desperate things. Humanitarian and development aid create stability and security for people, helping to prevent extremism and radicalism. It’s not just charity, it’s a very practical way to stabilize societies and create a more peaceful world.
You know, CARE was founded with the CARE Package in World War II. Americans sent the packages to refugees, including in the countries in Europe like Germany and Japan, which had been our enemies in the war. Now, they are our closest partners and among the leading democracies and economies of the world. That success started with humanitarian and development aid.
SM: Why is a focus on educating girls in Afghanistan so important? Why has CARE gotten involved?
BS: Child marriage is a big problem in Afghanistan and much of the world. If you’re a young girl who is sold into marriage at age 12 or 13 because your family needs money, your education usually stops cold. And your life stops. Early pregnancies can have terrible health consequences and even lead to death. You have no economic future or ability to be independent. So it’s a terrible vicious cycle.
CARE’s approach is to couple girls’ education with leadership development and mentorship so that girls can grasp opportunities to speak for themselves and for their peers in their communities. Overcoming barriers to girls’ education is critically tied to other aspects of her life – realizing a right to live free from violence and having the choice to decide if/when/whom to marry, having the ability to access information and services to plan her family, and being in an environment that is safe and secure.
We also work with the families to help them see the benefits of letting their daughters get educated. Getting the mothers and fathers on board is critical, and sets an example for other families. That’s how we start to achieve broader change.
SM: Are there some positive examples of how CARE's work in Afghanistan is helping girls?
BS: It’s quite a story. Since we started this particular program in 1994, more than 125,000 students (66% of them girls!) have matriculated. More than 5,000 schoolteachers have been recruited and trained. Nearly 80 public schools have been vastly improved and 21 new schools built. It’s extremely important in rural areas especially, where conditions can be much more dire and hostile to the education and empowerment of girls.
Our CEO Michelle Nunn recently visited Afghanistan. At a CARE-supported school, someone asked who was the smartest student in the class. Without missing a beat, a smiling girl confidently raised her hand. And rather than disagree, all her classmates nodded in approval! Ultimately, the future of Afghanistan will be written by the boys and girls in that classroom and thousands of other classrooms. This is at the heart of CARE’s work all over the world, and it is our hope that every girl and every boy has the change to be the smartest kid in the class.
SM: What are some ways that the CARE Global Leaders Network is preventing the spread of the refugee crises?
BS: What we’re seeing now is what the United Nations says is the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945: the danger that about 20 million people in four countries will suffer famine in the coming months, and that hundreds of thousands of children will starve to death. When people are starving, or fleeing conflict, they set out to find food and better conditions. It’s no accident that we have more refugees and displaced people in the world now than at any time in history. What CARE does is deliver food, water and shelter, but also work on the underlying conditions that cause poverty and instability. And we’re calling on Congress not to turn its back on these efforts.
As Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “If we isolate ourselves from the world and we just turn over all the problems to somebody else, one of my beliefs is eventually they all show up at our doorstep.” The CARE Global Leaders Network is a way we all can stand up for what’s right and continue America’s leadership toward a brighter, more peaceful future for everyone.
A night supporting Afghan Girls and Their Dreams
Last night the CARE Global Leaders Network, along with the Embassy of Afghanistan, held a program supporting Afghan Girls and their Dreams at the Afghanistan Embassy in Washington, DC. With a couple of hundred attendees from across the diplomatic community, U.S. government, the private sector, and the non profit sector- attendees were able to see and understand the importance of Afghan girls receiving an education. In the words of Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who used to be the US Ambassador in Afghanistan, he stated: "Getting it right with women and girls in Afghanistan and Iraq is key."
His Excellency Dr. Hamdullah Mohib of Afghanistan (Afghanistan Ambassador to the US); Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire; Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE; Dusty Huscher, a CARE donor; Ambassador Ryan Crocker; General Carter Ham; Ambassador Dwight Bush; and Martha Brooks, Chair of the CARE Board of Directors all gave moving speeches.
Photo credit for all photos relating to the event are from: Samiullah Jalalzai.
His Excellency Dr. Hamdullah Mohib of Afghanistan
Afghanistan Ambassador to the US
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, US Senator from New Hampshire
"When Women are at the table, there is an opportunity for a country to have peace."
Dusty Huscher, CARE Donor
"2/3 of those who graduate have high paying jobs in Afghanistan, and they're able to make more than their family members."