Women in Afghanistan learning about their rights

We are proud of our collaboration with women's rights organisations in Afghanistan, where we have worked since 2002.

During this time, we have supported the Afghan Women's Network in the monitoring of Afghanistan's 'Elimination of Violence Against Women Law', assisted the Afghan Women's Resource Centre in promoting women's leadership and have worked with Humanitarian Assistance for Women & Children in Afghanistan to build and develop a Women's Legal Aid Centre in Jalalabad.

Although Afghanistan is not a current Womankind focus country, as our new strategy is about working in greater depth into have the biggest impact possible, we continue to network, share learning and funding opportunities with our partners in Afghanistan and we advocate at the international level, alongside and in solidarity with partners across our network.

Below are some highlights of how we have supported our women's rights partners in Afghanistan:

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 worked 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.

In the last 18 months, we provided a transition grant for Afghan Women's Resource Centre to train women university students in the methods and practices of the development sector as well as coordinate internship placements with partners to help them gain valuable insight into women's rights work.

“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. They encourage them to stand up for their rights and ...
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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) has:

  • Arranged training sessions for law enforcement agencies so they are aware of the Elimination of Violence against Women law and use it
  • Monitored how law enforcement officers in Afghanistan put the law into practice, holding them to account
  • Produced evidence-based research on law enforcement agencies’ responses to violence against women, which can be used to make justice processes fairer
  • Increased 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

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) made 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

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