Sultana initally joined Blossom Hill as a student of our Fellows Ahmad Rostami and Furogh Mirdad's Entrepreneurship program in Kabul. In a society where women and young girls were never supported to attend school and faced many obstacles to their education including violence, underage or forced marriage to alleviate economic problems or resolve family disputes (known as baad), Sultana was very fortunate. She was raised by educated parents who believe that women are key to the future of their communities and their countries. She enrolled in Kabul University to further her business education and had a very busy life. She worked for a USAID project during the day, took night classes, and in her spare time started her own social venture addressing “period poverty” -- a hidden public health crisis affecting girls and women globally. In this venture, Sultana developed a natural, reusable sanitary pad, trained women producers and conducted market and user studies. She had just finished her sophomore year and received a contract from UNICEF for the pads when the Afghan government collapsed in August 2021. Her life as she knew it came to a sudden halt. Faced with threats to their lives, Sultana and her family were given 30 minutes to pack a small bag each and race to the airport for evacuation to America.
Today Sultana lives in a dramatically different culture and misses university life, But her thoughts remain with the Afghan girls and women left behind. As a Blossom Hill Fellow, Sultana will resume her women-centric social venture this year through virtual management in order to ensure girls continue to receive safe, comfortable and environmentally-friendly pads and the Afghan women who make the pads keep their children fed and safe.