ASU’s Thunderbird School looks to support Afghan women’s safety

Aug 19, 2021, 4:45 AM | Updated: 8:03 am
(Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
(Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management has supported tens of thousands of Afghan women’s economic empowerment since 2005 through a program called Project Artemis.

With the recent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the Thunderbird School of Global Management is focused on ensuring and supporting the safety of its alumni.

“We can’t say exactly how many we can do, but we’re going to do everything we can to host senior women leaders from Afghanistan that have to flee the country – here at ASU,” Director-General and Dean at Thunderbird School of Global Management, Sanjeev Khagram told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday.

As the dean of the school and a child refugee himself, Khagram is intensely focused on bringing peace to the world through commerce.

But following the recent events in Afghanistan that he described as an “incredible tragedy”, he’s focused on protecting the identity of the thousands of women who participated in and benefitted from the university’s outreach.

“The first thing that we want to do is make sure we do not put them in jeopardy in any way,” Khagram said. “We are also mobilizing all our resources to provide information to our women to the greatest extent that we can safely about how they might be able to get out.”

Financial resources have also been mobilized to the university’s alumni network, which has many students who are active in Project Artemis.

“We have 46,000 alumni in 140 different countries and we have a couple of students that are on their way from Afghanistan now,” Khagram said. “We’re trying to get them here, along with many other Afghan students that are in other programs across ASU.”

Although it’s unclear how many Afghan refugees ASU will host, the university wants to support them in whatever way they can.

“I wish it would be otherwise, but I believe we have to fear the worst and we have to start from there, whether it’s our women alumns or other folks on the ground, both women and men in Afghanistan are closing their shops, they’re trying to flee for safety,” Khagram said.

Project Artemis is a business-skills training program that builds the expertise of emerging Afghan women business leaders.

The program has built the leadership and entrepreneurial skills of promising Afghan businesswomen since it started, enabling them to return to Afghanistan to create and grow sustainable businesses.

The program has six cohorts, with 86 women total from programs held from 2005 to 2016. Artemis grads went on to create 5,000 jobs in Afghanistan and to mentor 20,000 other women.

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ASU’s Thunderbird School looks to support Afghan women’s safety