When SAWA-Australia was established in 2004 its main purpose was to raise financial support and awareness for the work of RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. At that time RAWA operated a number of schools, orphanages, income-generation projects, adult literacy and medical services in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
Over the years other democratic organisations developed in Afghanistan that share RAWA's objectives and are registered as NGOs. SAWA-Australia (SA) has shifted its support to these organisations, because their status enables SAWA-Australia (SA) to document the use of its funds in detail. Hewad High School in Rawalpindi, operated by RAWA, was supported by SAWA-Australia (NSW) until its closure in 2016.
RAWA is an independent, anti-fundamentalist, feminist organisation for women's human rights, and for a fully democratic and secular government in Afghanistan. RAWA was founded in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1977 with the objective to involve an increasing number of Afghan women in social and political activities aimed at acquiring women's human rights and contributing to the struggle for the establishment of a government based on democratic and secular values.Before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, RAWA's activities concentrated on agitation for women's rights and democracy. From 1979 RAWA became directly involved in the war of resistance, advocating from the outset democracy and secularism. Demonstrations against the Soviet invaders and later against the fundamentalists have been a hallmark of RAWA's political activities.
RAWA's founder Meena was murdered in 1987. Despite the horrors and political oppression, RAWA's appeal and influence grew in the years of the Soviet occupation, and a growing number of RAWA activists were sent to work among refugee women in Pakistan, where RAWA established schools with hostels for boys and girls and a hospital and conducted nursing courses, literacy courses and vocational training courses for women.
RAWA rejects violence, relying on education and relief work. In a statement to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, RAWA said in October, 2001: "The current humanitarian situation is grave, and being made worse each day by the continued fighting, the US bombing. ... The political situation is made ever more precarious by what some Afghans perceive to be US aggression against our country and our civilians, even as we cheer the possibility of the Taliban's demise. And, continued and increasing foreign assistance to the reviled Northern Alliance has plunged our people into a horrific anxiety and fear of re-experiencing the dreadful years of the ... 1990s. ... The Afghan people want what any people on this earth would want - the cessation of wanton violence and establishment of basic stability so that we may re-establish civil society."
RAWA still documents the situation in Afghanistan by reporting, film and photography and publishes a bilingual (Persian/Pashtu) magazine, Payam-e-Zan (Women's Message) to propagate RAWA's views, aims and objectives, and to give Afghan women social and political awareness in regard to their rights and potentialities.
More information on RAWA can be obtained from RAWA's web site www.rawa.org.