Founder of the Choice of Women Organization (VWO)
Suraya Pakzad founded the Voice of Women Organization (VWO) in 1998 in Afghanistan. The organization operates across the country and teaches women and girls how to read in groups. Initially, VWO’s work was conducted in secrecy but after 2001 the organization has been able to operate openly. Ms. Pakzad firmly believes that Afghanistan cannot prosper without the contributions of its women. To this end, VWO now runs a range of projects that support disadvantaged and oppressed women. Ms. Pakzad was the recipient of the “Women of Courage” award by the US State Department in 2008. That same year she was also awarded the “Malali Medal” by the President of Afghanistan. More recently, in May 2009, she was recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME Magazine. Ms. Pakzad graduated from Kabul University where she later became a faculty member in the literature department. She was married at 14 and is a mother of six.