More than 20 years of conflict have left Afghanistan devastated and communities broken, creating what is now one of the poorest countries in the world. Over the last decade significant steps have been made to advance women’s rights – such as the provision of gender equality in the new Constitution, and the establishment of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
But women have not witnessed significant improvements in their ability to claim their human rights. Many have severely limited physical freedom, no political voice and violence against women and girls is an everyday occurrence.
- 60-80% of all marriages are forced marriages
- 57% of girls are married before the age of 16
- 98% of women had no formal papers, citizenship or identity in 2002
- 25% of women are in employment compared to 88% of men
- Women’s life expectancy is 44.8 yrs
The deteriorating security situation since 2007 has left the population, especially women, without access to basic services.
Gender gaps in Afghanistan are widespread in health, in education, economic opportunities and power and political voice.
A combination of traditional customs and rigid interpretation of Shari’a Law places serious restrictions on women’s rights.
Womankind in Afghanistan
Womankind has been working in Afghanistan since 2004. We have worked in partnership with local women’s organisations supporting their participation, improvement of services to women and raising awareness of women’s rights.
Our initial work supported projects to reduce violence against women and promote women’s civil, economic and political participation in Kabul, Jalalabad, Mazar and Peshawar.
Since 2009 Womankind has been working to increase literacy rates amongst women and girls and strengthen leadership and women’s participation in the community.
Women’s leadership project
As part of our project to strengthen women’s leadership, the approach that we have taken in Afghanistan is to both strengthen women’s capacity, through advice, training and increasing women’s knowledge of their rights, as well as sensitising male members of community level governance, such as the Community Development Councils (CDCs). There is a great need in this context to address the continued exclusion of women from civil and political participation, particularly in the CDCs.
- We have enabled our partner to open a new legal aid centre for women in Jalalabad.
- We have trained women’s empowerment committees which have now registered with the Ministry of Justice in Afghanistan and have gained the status of Community Based Organisations.
- We have involved 150 community members, as well as representatives from the district governor’s office, police officers and security officials in a campaign on the reduction of violence against women in Kabul.