Afghanistan is currently one of the most difficult countries in the world in which to identify as a woman. Political and economic insecurity, educational inequality, sexual violence, and poor health are pervasive amongst Afghan women and children, but when equipped with powerful vocational and economic tools, women can change their lives, regardless of circumstance.
Since 2002, the Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program has reached more than 127,000 women in five provinces in Afghanistan.
At the close of last year, the rights and freedoms of Afghan women were dealt bitter blows. On December 21, 2022 the de-facto authorities imposed a ban against women attending universities, a heartbreaking development for many women in the middle of their exams. Three days later, on December 24, another ban was announced against women working for foreign aid organizations.
In response to this ban, we temporarily paused our in-person trainings for the safety of our team and participants. Since then, we’ve secured permission at the district and provincial levels to reopen some training centers, with female staff continuing to teach and train our participants.
Thanks to our locally-led team, we also secured special permission from the de facto authorities for our female staff to complete the distribution of $60 cash assistance to our program participants in a specific location, which allows women to invest in their small businesses, income-generating activities or to help meet their urgent needs.
At the moment, seven of our training centers are operational across three provinces, with over 1,690 women enrolled. 350 joined under the new enrollment that began in Feb 2023, and 700 will be enrolled in March in two provinces.
About Our Afghanistan Program
Women for Women International has developed a program that offers Afghan women a constructive, dignified way to discover their power. Our foundational training helps women know and defend their rights, lead mentally and physically healthy lives, influence decisions at home and in their communities, generate income, and save money for the future, contributing to economic self-sufficiency in their lives and for their families. In a recent randomized control trial, our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program in Afghanistan showed that there was a significant impact on women’s social and economic well-being a year after graduating from our program. Compared to women who did not participate, women in the program were nearly twice as likely to be earning money and seven times more likely to have savings.
Women in the program also experienced:
More equitable gender attitudes,
Increased food security for their families,
Increased freedom to travel, and
More decision-making power in their households.
An early adopter of our men’s engagement work, our Afghanistan team has reached almost 6,700 men since 2014.
Report: No One Hears Our Voices
In interviews, Afghan women and women’s rights organizations describe their experiences under Afghanistan’s new de facto government and set out their hopes for the future. In their own words, Afghan women in the report call for women’s rights, inclusion in public life, urgent economic relief, and for the international community to step up in solidarity with them.
Report: “Where I Am Going and Where I Am” - The personal and professional opportunities and challenges facing Afghan women human rights defenders outside Afghanistan
In August 2021, many Afghan women’s rights activists (WRAs) and women human rights defenders (WHRDs) fled Afghanistan out of fear for their safety and security under the new regime. Nearly a year later, Women for Women International and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) share a report and policy brief outlining key findings and recommendations based on research and outreach to Afghan WRAs/WHRDs that have continued their advocacy for women in Afghanistan – from all over the world. Their insights help us understand how we can support them in overcoming their personal and professional challenges as refugees and asylum seekers, as well as how to take advantage of the opportunities to support their work and leadership of the Afghan women’s rights movement.