Project: Empowering women in the community
Location: Afghanistan: Chilstoon region of southern Kabul
Duration: 2010-2011 (COMPLETED)
Partner: Afghan Women Resource Center (AWRC)
Since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the country has faced constant war and devastation, and women and children bear the brunt of it. Women were forced to quit a public life and become completely dependent on men for their survival. If men in the family were killed or missing in war, there would be no way for women to support themselves. Women are denied their basic human rights to obtain an education, participate in civil and political life, to participate in decision making at home and outside their home.
What Womankind is doing
We collaborated with our partner AWRC on this project to empower women in the community to become strong voices for women’s rights.
• At the individual level to support women to take leadership roles and eventually become an influence in their community.
• At the community level, to strengthen the capacity of women and youth committees to actively advocate, network and lobby for community development and gender equity at community and national levels.
• More broadly, to strengthen the capacity of women to influence events for a more equitable, open, democratic and peaceful society.
What the project achieved
• Training local women’s committees on management, report writing, leadership, civil society and community mobilization through AWRC’s technical team at Chilstoon Resource Centre.
• In 2010, 2 committees (women and youth) registered as community-based organisations with the Ministry of Justice
• 1191 women and 350 men participated in awareness-raising sessions on civil and political rights and women’s rights
• A campaign for the reduction of violence against women in was conducted in 7 districts of Kabul
This small-scale project shows the impact that local women’s organisations can have in their communities. Though the activities above sound like small steps forward, in fact, they represent very significant achievements. The simple fact that two groups of women have established and registered community-based organisations represents women’s re-engagement and re-emergence into the public sphere of their communities.
The two new organisations conducted awareness-raising sessions on local political processes – and as a result 43 women cast their votes in parliamentary elections. This was a great achievement as most women did not have identity cards or they were unable to vote because of family restrictions.
Womankind supported AWRC in giving women a platform and a safe space to build their skills and confidence in order to become active participants in decision making whether it be at home, community or government.
Roh Gul attended women’s awareness workshops at the AWRC Centre. “There were a lot of problems in the community such as families giving away their daughters at a very young age to older men and then arranged marriages. There was much domestic violence: the husband would beat his wife, even if she was pregnant, for not doing everything he said, such as not cleaning the house or not getting him a glass of water when he asked. I have seen a lot of changes though…
I travel to the centre and then share everything I learn about women’s rights to the women and men in my community. I educate them about how wrong forced marriages are at a young age and that women have the right to chose who and when they want to be married. All of these changes in my community have happened in the last four to six years.”