Zuhra Hakim, an Afghan woman in her mid-20s raised under the Taliban rule, always dreamed of enhancing her proficiency in legal and business English to further her career, but this was something that was not readily available to women in her country.
Until, that is, she learned of the Alliance for International Rights, which helps support the advancement of women leaders, primarily in Afghanistan—a country where women and young girls face tremendous barriers to achieving an education, a career, and even basic human rights. The Alliance introduced Ms. Hakim to DWT's Alicia LeDuc, who volunteered as Ms. Hakim's mentor and teacher via Skype. Through these one-on-one sessions, Alicia provided Ms. Hakim with valuable cultural exchanges, dialogue on leadership strategies for women managers, and, most of all, helped her develop the English proficiency necessary to advance in the business world and lead in the political process.
Formerly the senior gender officer with the World Bank in Afghanistan, Ms. Hakim was recently chosen through a competitive process to become the first woman director of the Citizens' Charter National Priority Program, a U.S.-funded, Afghan government effort to improve the delivery of core infrastructure and social services across the country. She now works directly with the Presidential Palace and more than 10,000 local councils in Afghanistan to implement gender parity and inclusion in governance decisions involving infrastructure projects. According to Alicia, Ms. Hakim attributes her success, in part, to her weekly professional-development sessions. But the benefit was mutual. "Having the privilege of working with Zuhra—who is so strong-willed, ambitious, and capable—to achieve her desired professional objectives, and seeing that work come to fruition in a national-level policy leadership appointment, is incredible," said Alicia.