Program Overview

In response to the immense humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan in 2021, which has greatly endangered the lives of Afghan women professionals and prevented them from participating in AIWR’s Programs, AIWR has created a temporary, one-year Emergency Small Grants Program (“ESG Program”). The purpose of the ESG Program is to use small grants to further AIWR’s mission of supporting women leaders in developing countries by providing a bridge for Afghan women leaders to find a new path toward their professional or educational development outside of Afghanistan. The ESG Program provides small grants of up to $2,000 for eligible uses.

Eligibility for The Emergency Grants

The ESG Program is available to Afghan women professionals or women’s rights leaders who are seeking to continue their professional or educational development outside of Afghanistan. The ESG Program will prioritize nominees/applicants who have demonstrated the most impact in the field of women’s rights.

To comply with OFAC verification requirements, candidate’s identities and backgrounds must be verified by AIWR’s Mentor Program staff and verified candidates must be nominated by AIWR’s Mentor Program Staff to be eligible for the small grants.

Grant Requirements

Eligible uses for the grant:

  • Tuition for professional degree programs, language programs, or vocational training.
  • Travel costs for educational or professional development opportunities such as travel to an educational institution, job interview, or study tour.
  • Other related costs of participating in a professional development or educational program, such as housing, books or laptops.
  • Fees for required visas for admission into a country in which further professional development may be obtained (including fees for humanitarian parole applications for the U.S.)
  • Fees for working with an immigration attorney to obtain a required visa for a professional or educational opportunity.
  • Individuals may be awarded multiple small grants, but with a cumulative individual limit of $2,000.

Direct payments to institutions required:

  • Grants must be paid to the institution, company or organization providing the training, program or service that is the subject of the grant. For example, a grant to help cover university tuition must be paid directly to the university, or airfare must be paid directly to the airline.

Nomination requirements:

  • Although the ESG Program is open to all Afghan women professionals or leaders, for purposes of verification and security considerations, applicants must be nominated by AIWR’s Mentor Program staff, who are responsible for verifying the identify, professional background, and suitability of the nominee for the ESG Program. Applicants who have not been nominated will not be considered.
  • To be considered for a nomination, applicants should contact Gayle Zilber at or Nancy Arnold-Hunting at

Selection criteria and post-award requirements:

  • AIWR’s Board of Directors will select the grant awardees.
  • Selection criteria will include:
    • Applicants who have strongly demonstrated a contribution to the field of women’s rights.
    • The programs/service that is the subject of the grant is one that will directly help advance the professional or educational development for the applicant.
    • Demonstration that the applicant has no other resources to cover the requested service or equipment.
  • Successful applicants will be responsible for providing AIWR the information to allow AIWR to submit the grant directly to the institution or company that is providing the service that is the subject of the grant.
  • Applicants will be required to send AIWR a short report at the completion of the program or use of the service that is the subject of the grant to verify that the program/service was successfully completed.