For $30, you can become a woman in Afghanistan

Amir Shaikh just launched a Kickstarter campaign for an Afghan refugee movement with a very specific mission: to empower Afghan women and girls.

The 26-year-old is a social media influencer and activist, who came to the United States two years ago after leaving his home in Afghanistan, inspired by growing numbers of women and girls who face violence.

“I was really inspired by those young girls, that being able to attend school was very uncommon,” Shaikh said. “I wanted to make a difference.”

His mission, as first introduced at the Women and Girls Visions conference, is to support an Afghan refugee movement “with the purpose of enabling Afghan women and girls to recognize their unique identities in a context in which it is becoming extremely challenging for Afghan women and girls to challenge the status quo,” he says.

But Shaikh’s idea has also become a movement on its own. People around the world are donating, ranging from an anonymous $50, to 100 people in South Africa donating $10 each. Even teachers in Afghanistan, in a country where girls still risk getting beaten and killed for wanting to attend school, have donated.

His ultimate goal is to send 5,000 women and girls to school. The government of Afghanistan only provides primary education, Shaikh says, and secondary school, like this one, is not even permitted.

He is starting a campaign to reach this goal on Kickstarter and has secured an angel investor, who he did not want to name but did say he is a “very successful donor in the tech space.” Shaikh is only asking for $30,000, and a quarter of the donation will go toward salaries for the field workers and 10 teacher trainers from the For the Love of Children and Women Worldwide, which serves refugee children, international students and Afghan Americans. The remaining money will help bring Shaikh to Afghanistan.

So far, the campaign has raised $4,230. The goal, Shaikh says, is to get at least $25,000 by August 9. The money will be used to pay for Shaikh’s trip to Afghanistan as well as providing mentors for the education movement, as well as funding training in social media, e-commerce and other strategies for participating women.

“Our mission is to educate Afghan women and girls about themselves, their cultural identity,” Shaikh says. “These women are resilient, they’re proud of themselves and they have goals of creating solutions, pushing for education and empowerment.”

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