In her native Afghanistan, Kawser Amine didn’t let boundaries get in her way: she joined the Afghan national soccer team while in middle school and played for several years, often facing serious threats.
“One time,” she told Upwardy Global recently, “we got into the bus to go to practice and a bomb went off,” narrowly missing them. Though her mother was worried about her safety, she supported her desire to stay on the team.
“I’m very thankful that my mother never stopped me from playing,” she said.
With her parents’ encouragement, Kawser continued to pursue her education. As a student at the American University of Afghanistan, she formed a women’s leadership club, a soccer club, and a badminton club. Her education there was disrupted in 2016 by a terrorist attack on campus that resulted in the deaths of several students and faculty members and a rash of threats from the Taliban to target students off campus. Kawser took time off from her studies to stay safe for the sake of her one-year-old daughter. Eventually, she continued her studies online through the Indian School of Business Management and Administration, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in general management with a specialization in international relations.
Living in Concord, California since 2019, Kawser immigrated to America with her husband, who had worked in Afghanistan as a radiographer with NATO and had Special Immigrant Visa status. Now 26, she first worked as a teller at Citibank upon her arrival here, but left that job when the pandemic hit and she became pregnant with her second child.
She originally intended to stay home until her children—a seven-year-old daughter and two-year-old son–were older, but “when Kabul fell, I changed my mind,” she explained. “I can’t stay in silence and see what’s happening over there.”
She began a short-term consultancy with a California-based non-profit working on agricultural/community empowerment projects in Afghanistan and elsewhere. While there, she launched her own campaign, Stand for Afghan Women’s Education, to raise visibility about the threats facing Afghan women.
“I want to stand for women’s education in Afghanistan, and women in sports. They’ve made progress, and if we can’t protect or save those achievements, they will be destroyed.”
When the consultancy ended, Kawser reached out to Upwardly Global to help her in her job search. “I’m very thankful for Upwardly Global’s support. They were really supportive, they trained me how to write my CV and referred me to a job at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)”, where she currently works as its Northern California refugee organizer.
Kawser is grateful that she can pursue her passion of working with refugees and displaced persons here in the U.S. while continuing to speak out on behalf of Afghan women.
“I will always try to be a voice for the silent, brightness for the dark…I always remember a thought from my mother, she always says, never give up, invest your energy for positive things, first try to help yourself in order to help others,” she said. “My mom says that the voice is the hidden weapon that every human has; when used for good, you can change the world.”
Her husband is supportive of her work, whether it be for CHIRLA, promoting its We Are All America campaign, or on behalf of the women of Afghanistan.
“He always tries to support me, tells me you can do it, try your best. He said campaigns always have a lot of headaches, are you able to accept it? And I said yes, and he said, ‘Okay, then do it.’”