Get access

The Hope in Her Eyes: The Role of Children in Afghan Women’s Resilience


  • Data collection was supported by grants from Open Society Institute Network Women’s Program, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and the UMBC Gender and Women’s Studies Program and Department of Psychology.

  • A draft of this article was presented as a poster at the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Brooklyn, NY, March 2010.

  • The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of RAWA.

concerning this article should be addressed to Anne E. Brodsky, Department of Psychology, 1000 Hilltop Circle, UMBC, Baltimore, MD 21250. Electronic mail may be sent to


Although responsibility for the care, nurturance, and protection of children can sometimes be viewed as an additional stress in the lives of at-risk women, this article describes the ways in which children act as protective factors in support of Afghan women’s resilience. The qualitative data presented come from 110 interviews collected in Pakistan and Afghanistan between December 2001 and July 2002 with Afghan women, children, and men associated with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). RAWA, founded in 1977, is an Afghan women’s underground resistance organization that promotes resilience through humanitarian and political activities. An iterative coding framework was developed to identify and explore processes of resilience and domain specific stressors (risks) and resources (protective factors). This article discusses the role of children as protective factors for women and RAWA. Although this article explores a unique setting and context, the authors argue that attention to children’s role as protective factors may provide an important, strengths-based approach and a useful mechanism to bolster women’s resilience in an array of other contexts and conflicts.