Women for Women International has operated in Afghanistan since 2002, serving over 127,000 women – and we are here to stay.
Since August 2021, the lives of women in Afghanistan have completely changed. Millions are starving and have lost access to their hard-earned rights, education, and jobs.
Today, Women for Women International is one of the few organizations providing direct services to Afghan women.
Here's what we're doing to support women living in one of the most dangerous places on earth:
1. REOPENING OUR CENTRES
ON 30TH JANUARY, AFTER MONTHS OF NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE DE FACTO GOVERNMENT, WE BEGAN TO REOPEN OUR TRAINING CENTRES
When we were granted permission to resume programming, we gradually reopened our training centers - starting in Nangahar province.
We began by enrolling women who had been in our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program before the crisis began in August 2021. 99% of women returned – 350 participants across two training centers in the area.
Our team in Afghanistan told us that participants were very emotional when they learned the centers were reopening and it gave them much-needed hope.
Women in our program shared their excitement at being able to meet in person and were very appreciative of having a safe space where they could share their fears and challenges in adapting to the new restrictions.
One woman shared:
"We are not coming here only for the stipend, but to learn from trainers, share our problems and reconnect with each other in person."
2. ENROLLING MORE WOMEN
WE HAVE NOW ENROLLED WOMEN IN THREE PROVINCES: NANGAHAR, PARWAN AND KUNAR
After enrolling women who had been participating in our program before we were forced to close, we began to enroll new women too.
We are now operating in three provinces and have over 1,893 women participating in our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program across 12 training centers.
3. RESUMING OUR WORK IN KABUL
WE RECENTLY REOPENED CENTRES IN AFGHANISTAN'S CAPITAL, KABUL
After receiving permission from the de facto government to resume our work in Kabul, we opened three training centers on 14th August. Over 750 women have already enrolled, including Zarmina.
Zarmina is a widow, solely responsible for providing for her eight children. She was struggling financially and emotionally when the program paused but shared that she’s happy to be back where she feels a sense of belonging and hope for the future.
4. PROVIDING STIPENDS
WITH THE ECONOMIC AND FOOD CRISES GROWING, MONTHLY STIPENDS ARE CRITICAL SUPPORT FOR WOMEN AND THEIR FAMILIES
With millions of Afghans facing acute food shortages, our participants, especially those who are mothers, described their pain at having to watch their children go to bed hungry.
With stipends being provided in the training centers, our participants can now feed their children and support their families financially. We also provided additional support in winter to help families manage during the coldest months.
"We were happy to hear the program was resuming because that means we can learn again and above all we can help our family financially as it feels very painful when our children ask for food and we don’t have anything to feed them." - Program Participant in Nangahar, Afghanistan
5. OFFERING PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT
WE ARE SUPPORTING WOMEN TO SUPPORT THEMSELVES AND EACH OTHER THROUGH THE CURRENT CRISIS AND BEYOND
In our program, women learn in groups of 25 and form support networks to help each other rebuild their lives, families and communities. With similar experiences, they lean on each other and heal together.
In Afghanistan, we have also trained women in our program in Psychosocial First Aid to help them cope with the trauma and stress amidst the current humanitarian and economic crisis.
6. RAISING AFGHAN WOMEN'S VOICES
CALLING ON THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO ACT WITH AFGHAN WOMEN
After speaking to current and former participants of our programs across Afghanistan and to Afghan women’s rights activists and organizations continuing their work within the country, we released our report, No One Hears Our Voices. We shared the hopes and fears of Afghan women, and an overarching message that emerged through our surveys and interviews: the international community has a vital role to play in exercising its power to support Afghan women's rights and alleviate the country's economic crisis.
7. AMPLIFYING AFGHAN EXPERIENCES
SHARING THE EXPERIENCES OF OUR AFGHAN COLLEAGUES WITH OUR GLOBAL COMMUNITY
In just one year, women’s lives have gotten a lot harder in Afghanistan. Unable to work, go to school or leave their homes without a male guardian, they are struggling to adapt to new restrictions.
In this episode of our podcast, What Makes Us Stronger, we talk to our Afghan colleagues about what it feels like to lose basic freedoms - and about what makes them stronger, against the odds. They also discuss how Afghan women are finding ways to meet and build a better life for themselves, and how we at Women for Women International are supporting them to do that.