AWO provides settlement and integration services to refugees and immigrants in the GTA and Peel Region who have fled war and persecution and face socioeconomic, racial, and gender barriers.
Mission and Purpose
The AWO provides settlement services to all newcomers, with a particular focus on women, their families, refugees, and individuals who have been through war and persecution. The organization has helped numerous newcomers from various world regions, including Central Asia, the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa, in their initial settlement process. These early steps, such as finding a place to live, job opportunities, learning English, and becoming familiar with Canada's legal system and health care, are all vital to establishing a solid foundation for each newcomer to create a healthy life in Canada. Furthermore, AWO programming includes a variety of activities that cater to the evolving needs of newcomers. As a result, more women and their families have better access to their network of peers and increased involvement in their communities. [i] 
The mission of AWO is to assist refugees and immigrants, especially those who have been affected by wars and persecution, with a special emphasis on women and their families. The organization strives to enhance their quality of life and promote their social and economic integration, enabling them to become active members of society and live with dignity.[ii] 
[ii] AWO official Website page: https://afghanwomen.org/about-us/mission-and-values/
Origins and Development
The AWO had modest beginnings in 1990. It was founded by Adeena Niaizi, who, along with a few Afghan refugee women, initially ran the organization on a volunteer basis. The group was formed by like-minded women from the Afghan committee with the aim of supporting other Afghan women refugees. They started in a small office without any furniture. Fahima Fatah was the first official staff member of AWO and worked with a second-hand typewriter at a small desk. Despite the small office and limited resources, the group worked tirelessly to help more Afghan women and their families. They came together with a shared goal to make a positive impact in the lives of those who needed it the most. Meanwhile, The AWO operates like a tight-knit family, with its clients at the center of its extended family. As the organization grew, it began serving an increasingly diverse client base. The AWO's mission is to improve the quality of life for newcomers and refugees, helping them live with dignity and reach their full potential while promoting social and economic inclusion. The organization has successfully served over 19,000 clients who have experienced war and violence from countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, other Central Asian countries, the Middle East, South and East Asia, Africa, and Europe.[i] 
Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding
The administrative structure of AWO comprises the founder, Vice President, treasurer, secretary, and staff members. In addition, AWO's funders include the Community Foundation of Mississauga, Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Region of Peel, RBC Royal Bank, United Way, and Scotia Bank.
Members of AWO will receive several benefits, including a membership card that is valid for one year, the right to vote in AWO elections, and the eligibility to be nominated for the AWO Board of Directors. Additionally, they will receive advance information about AWO programs and events and a courtesy call to remind them of these opportunities. As a member, They will also have the chance to contribute their expertise on specific issues by participating in a Board committee. Lastly, It offers support and reference letters to its members, should they ever need them. [i] 
Specializations, Methods and Tools
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Major Projects and Events
· Settlement Services
The Settlement Services Program of AWO assists more than 100 newly arrived landed immigrants and convention refugees every month to settle and integrate into Canadian society. Newcomers often find it challenging to access basic services such as health care, transportation, education, employment and shelter due to language barriers and lack of knowledge about the settlement process. However, AWO Settlement Services staff is well-trained and equipped to cater to their special needs. It offers a wide range of settlement services for families, including one-on-one services, information and orientation, interpretation and translation, assistance in filling forms and applying for benefits like SIN, PRC, CCTB, OHIP, assistance in finding housing (rentals and applying for subsidized housing), school/language training referral and enrollment, supportive counselling, accompaniment, follow-ups and referrals.
· Needs Assessment
As a part of the settlement and adaptation process, the first step is a needs assessment meeting. During this meeting, newcomers are informed about their rights and responsibilities as permanent residents in Canada. They are also provided with information about all the required documentation to access health care, employment and training opportunities, programs and education for their children, and the various services offered by the AWO to assist with the settlement process.
· Youth Program
Over the past year, the Youth Program of the Afghan Women’s Organization has been highly successful in catering to the needs of immigrant and refugee youth. The program aims to empower and support youth in various aspects of their lives and provides them with various services. These services include settlement services, mentorship, and civic engagement programs. Additionally, the program offers supportive and solution-oriented counselling to newcomer youth, which helps reduce social isolation and encourages them to participate in the wider community. The program has also provided assistance and counselling to several at-risk youths, including referrals to lawyers, support with court and school issues, and Aggression Replacement Training. Many youth have benefitted from the program, learning valuable skills in conflict mediation, which has helped them integrate into the wider community. Furthermore, the program offers skill development workshops that assist youth in developing leadership and public speaking skills, as well as empowering them with knowledge. The program also promotes awareness of Canadian culture and society among these youth.[i]
Moreover, The AWO offers various programs, including Global Connections, Let's Talk Not Hide, Women and Family Support Services, Senior Program, Mental Health and Wellness, Refugee Services, Community Connections, Employment Services, and English Language Classes.[ii] 
The Job Search Workshops (JSW) offered by AWO are helpful for newcomers trying to determine their career paths and next steps. The program has been running successfully from 2014 to 2015 and has already assisted 195 clients. The program helps newcomers think through their long-term and short-term career goals and supports them through the initial job preparation process into a life-long process of skill-building and career development. It offers computer training classes and access to the computer lab while providing ongoing support. Clients are referred to schools and language services, Employment Ontario programs, career fairs, employment agencies, and apprenticeship programs to obtain their licenses in various trades and skill training. The program also helps foreign professionals by referring them to credential evaluation services. Clients are assisted in creating their resumes and receive follow-up services to assess their progress. They benefit from ongoing access to Internet services, photocopying, and the use of a fax machine. The AWO wishes all of its JSW participants great success in 2015.[iii] 
[i] Afghan Women Organization (2009) Annual Report: https://afghanwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Annual-Report2008-2009.pdf
[iii] Afghan Women Organization (2015) Annual Report: https://afghanwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/AWO_AR2014_August7.pdf
Analysis and Lessons Learned
 AWO official Website page: https://afghanwomen.org/about-us/
 AWO official Website page: https://afghanwomen.org/about-us/mission-and-values/
 AWO official Website page: https://afghanwomen.org/about-us/board/
 Afghan Women Organization (2009) Annual Report: https://afghanwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Annual-Report2008-2009.pdf
 Afghan Women Organization (2015) Annual Report: https://afghanwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/AWO_AR2014_August7.pdf
 Afghan Women Organization (2021) Annual Report: https://afghanwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/AWOs-2020-2021-Annual-Report.pdf