Significant steps have advanced women’s rights in Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world, including a new constitution which promises gender equality.

But Afghan women still face restrictions imposed by tradition and strict laws. Many have limited freedom, experience daily violence and have no say in the decisions that affect them. Neither do they have equal access to healthcare, education or jobs.

  • Just 2.4 per cent of permanent full-time workers in Afghanistan are female (International Finance Corporation and The World Bank 2014).
  • Only 14 per cent of girls enrol in secondary education (The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics).
  • A little under a third of girls and women aged 15 to 24 can read and write (UNICEF 2015).
  • Just over a quarter of seats in parliament are held by women (UN Data 2014).
  • More than four out of five adolescent girls think that a husband is justified in beating his wife under certain circumstances (UNICEF 2015).

Helping women become active members of society

Women don’t normally put themselves forward for local elections because they often lack the confidence to speak up in front of men.

With our help, the Afghan Women's Resource Centre is working in communities on:

  • Providing training to help women win local elections. This is increasing women’s participation in local and national decision-making so they can get what they need
  • Supporting female constituents to hold leaders to account
  • Increasing opportunities for women to protect and promote women’s rights
  • Improving the accountability of local decision-making bodies when they respond to female constituents.
“Before attending the training, I thought women’s vote was not considered important. When I joined an awareness session on elections, I learned that everyone can be involved in the voting process and that a single vote can contribute to women’s rights.” Maryam

Afghan Women Resource Centre (AWRC)

  • Asia
  • Afghanistan
AWRC strives to help women improve their economic and social well-being and enables them to become active in decision-making processes. ...
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Putting the law about violence about women in to practice

The Afghan law on Elimination of Violence against Women was introduced in 2009 – a major milestone. It bans buying and selling women for marriage, using girls to resolve disputes and early and forced marriage.But, police, attorney generals and the judiciary are often unaware of the law, or are unwilling or unable to apply it. That means harmful traditional practices continue to affect the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan.With our support, our partner the Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) is:

  • Arranging training sessions for law enforcement agencies so they are aware of the Elimination of Violence against Women law and use it
  • Monitoring how law enforcement officers in Afghanistan put the law into practice, holding them to account
  • Producing evidence-based research on law enforcement agencies’ responses to violence against women, which can be used to make justice processes fairer
  • Increasing awareness and understanding of the Elimination of Violence against Women law by lobbying decision-makers and law enforcement agencies to use it effectively, through the media and other networks.
“The training gave me a clear picture of how I can use the EVAW law to prepare defence statements for survivors of violence. I received one case where a husband was torturing and beating his wife. The EVAW law specifically addresses beating and torture. We referred the case to prosecutors and, after their investigation, the husband was put under guarantee that he would not beat his wife again.” Farishna

Afghan Women's Network

  • Asia
  • Afghanistan
Afghan Women's Network (AWN) was established in 1995 by a group of Afghan women.  It is an umbrella organisation made ...
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Training to stop violence

Many women survivors of violence are not aware of their rights or of how to seek justice, despite the introduction of the EVAW law. Those who do speak out are harassed and rarely see their attackers punished. With our help, Humanitarian Assistance for Women and Children of Afghanistan (HAWCA) makes a difference in four areas of Nangarhar by:

  • Supporting local women to become human rights defenders who can identify and prevent cases of violence and protect other females in their communities
  • Training nurses, teachers and female police officers on violence against women and girls, the Elimination of Violence against Women law, and women and girls’ rights. This helps them support female survivors of violence
  • Raising awareness of violence against women and the Elimination of Violence against Women law in local communities, schools and universities.
“I was only 13 when I was forced to marry a local commander linked to a militant organisation. When my husband was away, my brother-in-law and father-in-law would rape me. I have four children, none of which are my husband’s. I contacted HAWCA’s legal aid centre in Kabul, asked for a divorce, and was moved to HAWCA’s safe house. My divorce proceedings are now underway, thanks to a defence lawyer provided by HAWCA.” Survivor of violence

Humanitarian Assistance for Women and Children of Afghanistan (HAWCA)

  • Asia
  • Afghanistan
HAWCA runs legal aid centres for women survivors of violence in Herat and Kabul. They also run a programme on ...
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Our impact in Afghanistan

Thanks to our partnership with women’s organisations in Afghanistan, in the last year:

  • 160 human rights activists learned about violence against women and girls, the EVAW law, and women and girls’ rights.
  • 2,000 people from 32 local communities learned about women’s rights and the EVAW law, helping them prevent cases of violence against women.
  • 1,300 girls were taught about women’s and girls’ rights and how to change attitudes.
  • 34 Afghan provinces heard messages about sexual harassment and buying and selling women being illegal through two radio shows.

Find out more about our impact

Help us do more

£35 can help train a police officer to help women facing violence.

£26 can give four school girls knowledge and skills to become leaders and speak out against violence and harmful traditional practices.

£92 can train 10 women human rights defenders to identify and prevent violence against women in their communities.