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  • 7/4/2004

The Ahfad University for Women

Private university inSudan dedicated to educating women, strengthening women's roles in national and rural development, and achieving equity for women in Sudanese society Omdurman, Sudan, Africa


The history of the Ahfad University for Women reaches back to 1907 when Sheik Babiker Badri established Sudan's first private school. Even more remarkable than its establishment at that time was the fact that the school was for girls only! It was most likely the first private school for girls in all of Africa. From then on, Sheik Babiker (1860-1954) and his son, Yusuf (1912-1995), expanded private education for both boys and girls, culminating with the establishment of the Ahfad University College for Women by Professor Yusuf in 1966. In 1995, full university status was granted by the Sudan National Council for Higher Education.
Since 1907, the Ahfad schools and now the Ahfad University for Women has steadfastly pioneered in providing quality education for women, in strengthening the roles of women in national and rural development, and in seeking equity for women in all facets of Sudanese society.


Begun with only 23 students in 1966, Ahfad now has over 4,600 student enrolled in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and short term programs. Undergraduate Programs include the:

School of Family Sciences;
School ofPsychology and Pre-School Education;
School of Organizational Management;
School of Rural Extension Education and Development; and
School ofMedicine.

Two Graduate Programs are offered: Human Nutrition; and Gender and Development

In support of these programs, Ahfad also maintains six Special Units. These are the:

Women's Studies Unit;
Women's Studies Documentation Unit;
Teacher Research Resources Unit;
Early Childhood Development Centre
Center for Reproductive Health, Family Planning and the Eradication of Harmful Traditional Practices
Computer Center

The Main Library (Maktabat El Hafeed) moved to its new building in 1991. This building is most modern library inSudan and serves as the focal point for academic activities across the entire university.


The goal of Ahfad is to prepare women to assume responsible roles in families, communities, and in the nation. In keeping with this objective "the Ahfad experience" embraces a combination of well articulated academic courses, on-the-job training, individual research, and community extension activities. This combination of activities is designed to prepare women from all parts ofSudan to become change agents in their families and communities and to assume leadership positions in society.

Community Outreach

In additional to degree-oriented programs, Ahfad is committed to improving life and opportunities for families in the rural areas of Sudan. This is partly accomplished through the Rural Extension Program, in which all Ahfad students must participate during their junior year. As part of this Program students live in rural areas and plan and participate in projects designed to impart knowledge and organization skills among women. The objective is to help rural women become change agents in their communities.
Ahfad also develops short term courses in rural development tailored to the needs and interests of rural communities. Rural women with leadership potential are brought to the Ahfad campus for more extensive leadership development. Special courses, lasting between three to nine months, are designed for each group of women. Trainees are awarded certificates upon completion of the courses.


Ahfad faculties are encouraged to conduct research on topics affecting women and families in Sudan. In addition, all students must complete an independent research project which counts as one senior course and is a requirement for graduation. Topics are agreed upon in the student's junior year. Many students collect their data during the summer vacation following their junior year. About half of their senior year is devoted to analyzing their data and writing a report under the guidance of their faculty advisor.

The purpose of these projects is two-fold: (1) to motivate students to examine some issue in detail and through this process to learn the conceptual and analytical skills of research and critical analysis; and (2) to produce new information and knowledge for addressing problems facing women and communities in Sudan. Selected student reports are published in The Ahfad Journal: Women and Change.

Language of Instruction

Since its inception, Ahfad has taught in English. All courses, including those in the newSchool of Medicine use English as the medium of instruction.

The Ahfad Journal: Women and Change

TheAhfad University for Women also publishes the only professional journal coming from Sudan today. Now in its fifteenth year of publication, The Ahfad Journal: Women and Change includes research on the roles of women inSudan and other developing countries and the contributions of women to community and national development.

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