PHOENIX — From the depths of repression to a world of possibility and now a fight for survival, no one may be more vulnerable in Afghanistan than its women.
Many of them were trained for success by ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Afghan women came to the Valley or are attending classes in Kabul, learning from Thunderbird professors how to become teachers, business owners, and community leaders.
“They were very encouraged, excited to finally be a voice in their country and they were hopeful,” said Dr. Eileen Borris EdD, an adjunct professor with the school.
Doctor Borris has played a role in the emancipation of Afghan women since 2005. Most recently in 2019, she spent several weeks teaching women conflict resolution in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city.
“They felt a lot more empowered than they felt in many years and the women I spoke with were women in education, were in healthcare were running non-profit organizations to better the lives of other Afghans,” Borris said.
Now as Borris watches the images from Afghanistan, she is filled with a sense of dread. “It’s a heartbreak to me,” Borris said. “It turns my stomach. I’m almost in shock about it all. I’m very, very sad. I’ve been grieving for the past couple of days because I know how wonderful things could be and how horrific they’ll probably turn out.”
Over the years, Thunderbird has trained and mentored hundreds of Afghan women. Those women went on to train and mentor thousands of other Afghan women.
Now Thunderbird is scrubbing its website of any pictures, fearing the women could be identified and hunted down by the Taliban.
The school is working with the State Department and gathering as much information as it can about visas and other options available, posting it on its website in an effort to help as many former students as possible find a way to escape their country.