During her time as an aid worker in Afghanistan, Linda Norgrove was a determined champion of women seeking an education.
Her legacy is ongoing support for scholarships, funded by a charity which is now seeing demand reaching record levels.
Linda was abducted in October 2010 while working for a charity. She was killed, aged 36, by a grenade during a rescue operation by US forces.
Her parents John and Lorna set up the Lewis-based Linda Norgrove Foundation in her memory, providing wide-ranging support for Afghan people.
A major focus is on women’s scholarships as the charity believes they can create a lasting change for the country.
It is believed the steep rise in demand may be the result of increased use of the internet.
Majority of scholarships will help women studying medicine
This year 1,700 women responded to adverts for potential students. This compares to 491 applications in 2020 and 650 in 2019.
So far, 130 women have been interviewed and 34 scholarships will be supported.
Mr and Mrs Norgrove said: “Some of the increase might be the result of us expanding the courses we provide support for. But it also seem to be that more and more people are online and finding out about our scholarships that way.”
The couple say the majority of scholarships will help women studying medicine or related fields including dentistry, pharmacy and midwifery.
A small number are also studying business-related subjects, such as computer science, international relations and economics.
Students have their fees paid for the duration of their course and are given support to cover basic living expenses.
Mr and Mrs Norgrove believe the work would be fully supported by their daughter: “She cared passionately about the country and its people and she was a strong advocate of the rights of women to an education.
“We were immensely proud last year when one of our first students finally graduated and is now a fully qualified doctor.”
‘We will become educated and have careers for ourselves’
Fouzia Sultani is determined that others will follow in her footsteps despite the current difficulties facing them.
She said: “Women now aren’t the same as those who lived under the Taliban before. We will fight for our rights, we will become educated, have careers for ourselves and bring changes to our country.
“The Taliban have to accept that the women of today are not those who they dealt with in the 1990s.”
Last year, during its 10th anniversary, the Linda Norgrove Foundation reached the milestone of raising £2 million since 2010.
It currently supports 198 female students.
It also provided extra funds to help combat the impact of coronavirus, helping to pay for makeshift handwashing stations and face shields.
Mr and Mrs Norgrove spoke of their pride in the ongoing work of the charity and the transformational effect it can have for many women.