Recently named one of TIME's 100 most influential people, Suraya Pakzad is an outspoken Afghan activist on behalf of the rights of women and girls. She originally founded the Voice of Women Organization (VWO) to educate girls in Kabul in secret schools under the Taliban, and has since expanded to support women and children throughout Afghanistan.

In 1998, against a landscape of oppressive Taliban rule in which women were treated as second-class citizens, considered the property of their husbands, and not allowed to receive education, Suraya Pakzad created an underground movement she named the Voice of Women Organization (VWO). Its initial goal was to teach women and girls how to read, violating the law in the interest of literacy. Many women participated in these life-threatening activities because they realized the value of an education. Since the fall of the Taliban, VWO has operated openly in Afghanistan, and Suraya now runs Herat's only shelter for women. Her efforts continue place her in danger, and she often receives death threats from those who oppose the idea that Afghan women should be treated as equals.

The Herat women's shelter offers services and protection for women who have fled violent homes, and equips them to cope through their holistic psychosocial programmes. Although Suraya has won numerous awards for her work, recognition does not always translate into financial support. Funding the day-to-day operational costs of the shelter is a constant challenge.

Through To Mama With Love we aim to raise at least $20,000 to support Suraya's important work on behalf of Herat's women and children.

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Voice of Women Website