The faces of Afghan women shown on the nightly news can be shocking and disturbing. Many have been deprived of the most basic human rights of healthcare, education, and freedom of movement.

But while the images are real, they are not the whole story. Despite war, oppression, and poverty, Afghanistan’s women have shown resilience and progress. More women are in school, in the legislature, in jobs and professions, and more are voting. Most important, there is finally a government in Afghanistan that supports their empowerment.

Many of these gains have been made because of a grassroots human rights organization, Women for Afghan Women (WAW).

This Sunday, April 17, from 1 to 4 p.m., Alex and Ani, the Princeton jewelry store based at 4 Hulfish Street, will host a fundraiser for WAW. WAW’S director of development, Vanessa Dubyn of Somerset, and Nilab Nusrat, a student at Drew University, will be present. Fifteen percent of the proceeds from sales will go to the organization as part of Alex & Ani’s Charmed by Charity program. The event is being organized by the Princeton/Philadelphia chapter of World Wings International, the charitable organization of former Pan Am flight attendants.

WAW rescued Nilab Nusrat from a jail when she was 11 and placed her in its Children’s Support Center. The center provides shelter, nutritious food, and access to education. She thrived academically and was chosen to go to the U.S. to speak at WAW’s 2013 gala. With the help of WAW supporters, she obtained a scholarship to the Putney School in Vermont and now is a sophomore at Drew, majoring in economics and international relations. Her goal is to return to Afghanistan to set up microfinancing support for women.

Women for Afghan Women will hold its annual gala on Wednesday, May 25, in New York. For tickets, visit

— Anne Sweeney

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