Razia's Ray of Hope

News and Events Archives

Keeping Current

A collection of news items about Razia's Ray of Hope as well as relevant stories about women in Afghanistan.


Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS), US Military: Arzu Studio Hope Seek to Improve Quality of Life for Afghan Women
June 9, 2010

Razia Jan, who also serves as Program Director in Afghanistan for Arzu Studio Hope, visited Helmand province June 8-12, 2010, to survey search for "potential locations to expand operations like the women's center in Bamyan, Afghanistan. The women's center employs women weavers to create high-end woven rugs. To work for Arzu, women sign a contract agreeing to send all of their children to school until age 15 and take literacy classes themselves. Also, pregnant women and mothers of newborns are to accept transportation to medical care."

The full article is available here. You can also see photos at DVIDS.


McClatchy Newspapers: Despite reports of progress, reality for Afghan women is grim
April 12, 2010

“Women not only continue to lack access to healthcare and education, but they also lack legal protections. They continue to confront pervasive violence and early marriages. After nine years and $300 billion, U.S. reconstruction efforts have largely bypassed women and girls." Read the full article here.


UNICEF: Regional Director highlights challenges for girls in visit to Afghanistan
March 23, 2010

“UNICEF is working to increase the numbers of girls in school by supporting the training of female teachers and setting up child-friendly classrooms. [UNICEF Regional Director] Toole visited female students at Herat Girls High School to see such efforts firsthand." Read the full article here.

Duxbury Clipper: Girls' School in Afghanistan Still Flourishing
March 10, 2010

"You might think your commute is tough, but Razia Jan’s is much worse. She wears two hats, as the head of the Zabuli School for Girls in Deh Subz, Afghanistan and as the program director for the Arzu Foundation, a non-profit that works with women rug weavers known as the Hazara. It can sometimes take her 14 hours to get from one place to the other, across dangerous mountain roads in a fragile part of the world." Read the full article here.


US Department of State: Afghan Women and Girls: Building the Future of Afghanistan
February 23, 2010

Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues: "I am honored to appear before you today to describe why women and girls are among the most powerful but still largely underutilized agents for change to advance security, stability, and development in Afghanistan." Read the full written testimony here.


USA Today: #1 Killer in Afghanistan is Poverty
January 12, 2010

Khaled Hosseini: "When people have a roof over their head, food on the table and a school to send their children to, they are not as vulnerable to exploitation by extremist groups. Young Afghans deserve a better option than becoming fighters, and it would serve us well to give it to them." Read the full op-ed piece here.


Washington Post: Afghanistan strategy should also focus on improving quality of life
December 28, 2009

"Make women the focus, not the footnote, of aid programs. It's no accident Mortenson, Yacoobi and Duckworth all target their limited resources toward women and girls: In Afghanistan, as elsewhere, investing in women pays dividends many times over. Women are more likely to prioritize the education, nutrition and health of their families, creating a multiplier effect that lifts entire communities." Read the full op-ed piece here.


New York Times: More Schools, Not Troops
October 28, 2009

Nicholas Kristof: "Education isn’t a panacea, and no policy in Afghanistan is a sure bet. But all in all, the evidence suggests that education can help foster a virtuous cycle that promotes stability and moderation. So instead of sending 40,000 troops more to Afghanistan, how about opening 40,000 schools?" Read the full op-ed piece here.


Center for Global Development: Start with a Girl: A New Agenda for Global Health
October 5, 2009

"Improving the health of adolescent girls in the developing world is the key to improving maternal and child health, reducing the impact of HIV, and accelerating social and economic development. Start with a Girl: A New Agenda for Global Health sheds light on the realities of girls' health and well-being in developing countries, on the links between the health of girls and the prospects for their families, and on the specific actions that will improve health prospects for millions." Read the full report here.


UNHCR Refworld: Fair access of children to education in Afghanistan
September 12, 2009

"[A]pproximately 40% of children are deprived of education and girls are more vulnerable in this regard and a large number of children do not have access to school in rural areas. But compared with the past years, there are now more children who have access to school quantitatively and the number of schools too has increased. Despite all these, there are not enough schools for children and as a result of lack of enough schools and school buildings, there are multiple-hour lessons in some schools across the country (one shift, two shifts, and three shifts)." Read the full report in PDF here.


Washington Post:Opportunities Expand for Afghan Women
August 30, 2009

Razia Jan is featured in a Washington Post article on three Afghan women who are "smashing centuries of convention and forcing Afghans to think in new ways about the role of women in a country that has some of highest female illiteracy rates and poorest maternal health outcomes in the developing world." Read the full article here.


World Pulse:Girl Revolution
August 11, 2009

A new session unexpectedly stole the show at the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Early on a Saturday morning—when most delegates would be expected to be sleeping—a panel called “The Girl Effect” played to a standing room-only crowd. A buzz circulated the packed room, which included heads of state, CEOs, international banks, and philanthropic leaders such as Melinda Gates and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus.

Why all the fuss? Lee Howell, Davos Annual Meeting Director, says girls were on the agenda for the first time in the meeting’s 39-year history because, as he puts it, “The field work, economic analysis, and experience all point to the powerful effect you’ll have if you invest in girls. People have to do more with less. If that’s the context we’re operating in, then the girl effect is an answer.” Read the full article here.


American University of Afghanistan Free Press:
The New Kabul City in Deh Sabz
June 9, 2009

A group of Japanese engineers, town planners, and other experts in urban planning (buried under maps, GIS data, and piles of paper) are working on the plan for a new city. This city is not going to be in the suburbs of Tokyo or Kawasaki. It is called Deh Sabs and is located in the heart of Kabul. In fact its name implies the aim: to be the New Kabul City.

Deh Sabz district, the new city area, is situated northeast of Kabul City. The Kabul River flows through the district in its southern end and the main highway (Kabul-Jalalabad) passes along it. With the rapid expansion of Kabul, the high rate of rural urban migration, and the destruction left from 30 years of war, most of the basic infrastructure in old Kabul has been heavily damaged. Such damage requires a great deal of investment to rebuild and expand the basic infrastructure.

The largest project under the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS) which is one of the current’s government development projects, the New Kabul City, is an independent unit lead by a board of directors comprised of representatives from the Afghan government as well as the private sector. This independent unit is the “Deh Sabz Development Authority” (DCDA). The minister of Urban Development, Mr. Yosuf Pashtun, minister of Agriculture Mr. Mohammad Asif Rahimi, and the Mayor of Kabul Mr. Abdul Ahad Sahibi represent the Afghan government, while C.E.O of Siemens in Afghanistan Mr.Ghulam Sakhi Hassan Zada and Mr. Daud Musa C.E.O of Pashtun Corporation are representing the private sector. Read the full article here.


UN Human Rights Chief: Afghan Law Restricting Women's Rights Is Reminiscent of Taliban Era
April 2, 2009

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Thursday urged the Afghan Government to rescind a new law, reportedly signed by President Karzai earlier this month, saying it would seriously undermine women's rights in Afghanistan and contravene the Afghanistan constitution as well as universal human rights standards. Read the full article here.


Duxbury Clipper: The Road to Zabuli
April 16, 2008

Children line their bench-style desks, patiently alert, chatting softly. A teacher reviews last minute lesson plans and writes a greeting on the spotless blackboard. At the schoolyard gate, visitors gather in the sun. They wait for honored guests, watch last-minute preparations and direct the occasional car to a parking spot out of the way. The mood is festive and happy. It’s the first day of school, a day to be celebrated with song and speech — so the barrels of the Kalashnikov rifles are pointed to the ground.

Kalashnikovs. In Duxbury, a band of men armed with assault rifles attending the opening of an elementary school would make the national news. But the Zabuli School for Girls isn’t in Duxbury. It’s in Deh Sabz, Afghanistan, a gritty town of 1,000 families on the outskirts of the capital city Kabul. Out here, standing among men armed to the teeth is calming, not frightening. It means that security is strong. Fear comes when standing among men who have turned their attention toward you, and you can’t see their weapons. More unsettling, perhaps, are the moments when you can see their weapons and the barrels are pointed up. That’s when they’re ready for action. Read the full article here.


Boston Globe: Giving Afghan girls a first: opportunity
December 2, 2007

From comfortable Duxbury to provincial Afghanistan comes a gift from the heart, and from the head: A girls' school is rising in a village outside Kabul where no girls have been educated in years. It's all thanks to the Duxbury Rotary Club, and a resourceful woman named Razia Jan of Marshfield.

Jan is an Afghan who came to the United States for her own education in 1970 and never left. She became a US citizen, had a son — now a film and theater director in Los Angeles — and opened her own business, a dry cleaning and seamstress shop in Duxbury.

She has also, over the past two years, been raising money to build the girls' school in a village outside Kabul. In August, she was in her native land to watch the first floor of the two-story school building go up. When it is complete this winter, the school will have eight classrooms. "We'll start from 4 or 5 years old but might get a 16-year-old who has never been in school," says Jan. Read the full article here.