CONTEXT AND INITIATIVE
The Taliban’s oppression of women in Afghanistan during their rule from 1996 through 2001 is well documented and included movement restrictions, the denial of the right to work, beatings and other physical abuse, arbitrary detentions, a near ban on girls’ access to education and restricted access to health services. Following the fall of the Taliban, a new window of opportunity for women has opened. The Afghan constitution provides that all citizens have equal rights before the law. The BMZ funded GIZ Regional Capacity Development (RCD) program contributes to this change. The program supports development of capacities of women and girls in various ways:
• To enhance the economic empowerment of women, business-related trainings and the facilitation of business plans are supported through the newly established Women Training Centers.
• To enhance the access of women to educational and health services, the construction of girls schools and hospitals with maternity units across northern Afghanistan are supported.
• To raise the awareness for the importance of literacy and human rights, campaigns are conducted. For example the Afghan partners are supported in celebrating special occasions like Women’s Day, in order to make women and girls conscious of their social, economic and political rights.
GENDER – A QUALITY FEATURE OF OUR WORK
This sustainable support has been highly appreciated by the government of Afghanistan at national and subnational level. High-ranking guests from both provincial and national level regularly visit the trainings and project sites and the Afghan media frequently reports on gender-related RCD measures. The appreciation of the program is shown in the provincial Gender Working Groups in which RCD is a key member. Furthermore, the women and girls benefiting from the measures continuously state that RCD is among the very few international organizations which implements gender-related projects on provincial and district levels and at the same time facilitates contacts with the national level. They hope this sustainable support will continue as long as possible. Therefore, it comes to no surprise that RCD became the first point of contact for the provincial governments in regard to gender projects.
Today, many Afghan women in the provinces know about their rights in the society. More and more girls and women have access to education, health facilities, networking services and the job market. Dozens of young female graduates found a job through internship programs. Thousands were trained in a multitude of fields from English and IT to management and business planning. Women Training Centers built in three provinces are connected to the local markets through business-related events and near-by women markets. The most important impact is the changing mindset of an increasing part of the local population on the rights of women which in the long run will help to achieve true gender equality in Afghanistan. The many success stories of RCD and its partners are collected there and easily accessible.
Sayed Fahim Husainpur
The competition entry ”Regional Capacity Development Program” from GIZ Afghanistan can be downloaded here: