From ‘Mind is full’ to Mindful

Fakhria Momtaz, class of 2014, leads an outside yoga class in Afghanistan.

There has been a lot of talk on social media about gaining weight and the lazy habits created during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone is feeling the effects of sheltering in place over the past several months whether it be commercial, personal, or a combination of both. In Afghanistan, PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® alumnae and Class of 2020 students in the health industry have only just begun to attract clients to the positive effects of personal health maintenance and now they are tasked with how to reach their market segment not only through the pandemic but also with increased violence against modernization and independent thinking, especially among women.

In 2014, Fakhria Momtaz, a technology entrepreneur in Kabul, Afghanistan, graduated from the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® in-country program and qualified for additional training to include in-person mentorship in the USA. During Leadership Development courses in the Dallas metro, we also learned that Fakhria had learned the art of traditional dance from her family. In fact, Fakhria performed her graceful dance in native costume for her fellow classmates and IEEW staff during an evening event. Not long after returning home, this multi-faceted filmmaker, photographer, and internet service provider expanded her growing empire to yoga.

Over the years, Fakhria has garnered international attention for her ability to take yoga mainstream for the women of Afghanistan. After traveling to India, the traditional home of yoga, for certification, Fakhria expanded her studio to include other amenities geared to women and their children, such as an internet cafe and beauty salon. Adhering to the principles of both PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® and the yoga philosophy, Momtaz has played an integral role in the alumnae association within Kabul. In 2019, Tahira Subhani, the proprietor of the Momtaz Beauty Salon leasing space within Fakhria’s yoga studio, became a PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® student in her quest to learn the business tools that helped Fakhria. This year, a former yoga instructor at Momtaz yoga, graduated with the Class of 2020 in-country and earned a spot at Leadership Development with her new business, Shukufa Gym Salon.

Nazifa Alizada had always dreamed of providing services to the ladies of her country for overall health and to avoid depression. After a scholarship at university in India where she earned a bachelor of business degree and studied yoga, dance, and fitness during her three years there, Nazifa moved to Kabul. Inspired by the industrious women she met at Momtaz, Shukufa now targets another Kabul community of women and children, offering a health club, yoga and, Zumba, and even a salon.

Despite threats from the Taliban and ISIS, Fakhria has joined the many yoga instructors around the world that now offer classes online. Now that summer has arrived, many classes have moved outdoors. To say that IEEW is proud of these strong, independent women is an understatement. Their spirit and dedication to paying forward their knowledge by empowering others is a testament to the success of IEEW’s PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® mission to educate women economically, socially, and politically.

“If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” – African proverb