Scholarships for Women in Afghanistan: A New Reality, A New Path

30 November 2022

Most days here at Myriad Canada we feel pretty amazed and humbled by the extraordinary things that are being done everywhere in the world by the organizations we work with. Very often we find ourselves saying ‘it’s like little miracles’.

But like so many, we will never forget August 15, 2021 – the day the Taliban took over Kabul – just as we were finalizing an agreement with Gawharshad University in Kabul for a long-term project to support scholarships for young women.

In the weeks leading up to that day, we were of course concerned, but all signs pointed to the Taliban not entering Kabul. In fact, in a meeting just days prior, we were informed that the school year would actually be delayed – but because of covid.

The Spark

The catalyst of this initiative is a group of fiercely dedicated women who are part of the group ‘University Women Helping Afghan Women’ (UWHAW), an Ottawa-based study and interest group of the Canadian Federation of University Women – Ottawa Club.

Myriad Canada began working with the UWHAW in 2020 to implement this project and we were incredibly excited to launch the 2021 academic year with a new cohort of 6 very enthusiastic and motivated young Afghani women.

The Dreadful New Reality

The implications of the Taliban takeover of Kabul have been grave. Not only have women been barred from universities, but Afghanistan has become the only country in the world banning girls from receiving a secondary education. This doesn’t only breach their right to education. It puts them at a direct increased risk of early marriage and pregnancy, gender-based violence and so much more.

Renewed Direction

There is no denying that it has been extremely difficult to change course. However, we all strongly believed that it was important to put the funds to good use, in a way that would best benefit Afghan women.

After examining many different options, and considering that it is now not possible to transfer funds to Afghanistan due to anti-terrorism legislation, funds raised will now support Afghan women refugees coming to Canada. We are pleased to announce that the funds originally intended to support women at Gawharshad University will be used towards an endowed scholarship at Algonquin College in Ottawa for a female Afghan refugee.

Left to right: Patricia Duffey, Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) – Ottawa, Chair, Scholarship Trust Fund; Lorna Bickerton, CFUW-Ottawa & UWHAW; Jorgensen-Lane, Manager, Financial Aid and Student Awards, Algonquin College.

“Afghan women refugees have experienced unimaginable suffering and upheaval, including an interruption of their studies,” said Mark Savenkoff, Vice President, Advancement and Strategy, Algonquin College. “[The scholarship] will be a permanent avenue of financial support for Afghan women to gain access to valuable education and career training programs.”

Thank You.

Myriad Canada extends its gratitude to each and every Canadian who gave the gift of education to Afghan women. Although the mechanics of the scholarship may have changed, its spirit remains steadfast.


For more information on the scholarship, please contact Lorna Bickerton at