Female Leadership with Philia at AUAF

12, September, 2017

Educating women is one of the central aims of the American University of Afghanistan. Oftentimes, females in Afghanistan do experience severe discrimination when it comes to access to education. AUAF seeks to break this stigma by supporting women in determined and innovative ways. 

Symbiotic Coaching is a new and sustainable way towards the empowerment of women. Nicole Bogott, co-founder of Philia, together with Nargis Ehsan approached the American University of Afghanistan in order to implement the symbiotic sharing method with female students at AUAF during July and August of 2017.

AUAF had been the aim of a horrific attack exactly one year prior to the Philia coaching taking place. As a part of the healing of this trauma AUAF seeks innovative ways to support their students dealing with the aftermath.

Over the course of one month Nicole gave succinct classes to a selected number of female students. The Philia Programme aims at fostering leadership skills by teaching a new method that consists of reflection time, peer coaching sessions and focused teachings on communication skills, peer support and goal-setting.

As it is one of AUAF’s aims to especially support women, collaborating with Philia, which is a female-led social enterprise with a wide global network stretching over four continents, was a natural conclusion.

But what exactly is symbiotic coaching and why is it so effective? Symbiotic coaching is the reciprocal process of empowering and being empowered. Therefore, the method not only helps the students to achieve their own goals, but it also teaches them how to support other students in their growth. When this method is continuously implemented over an extended period of time then Philia Participants experience a deep sense of community and cooperation.

Nargis Ehsan was Nicole’s sparring partner in organising the lessons at AUAF. A group of 20 women came together to embark on their own peer coaching journeys. Amongst other things Nargis learned “to keep balance in relationships because too many expectations can hurt.”

 Becoming aware of the importance of the creations of balanced relationships for a fulfilled and self-determined life is just one of the many aha moments the students experienced through their participation in the Philia Project. Insights such as these were sparked in engaging group discussions that take place throughout the course.

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