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People’s Postcode Lottery

People’s Postcode Lottery

Players of People's postcode lottery stand with women survivors of conflict

Transforming lives and advancing gender equality in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq and northern Nigeria

Since 2017, players of People's Postcode Lottery have helped to transform the lives of thousands of women living in some of the most difficult, dangerous countries on earth.

This committed support has enabled us to deliver training programmes to thousands of marginalised women, equipping them with tools to earn an income, claim their rights and power, and build stable futures after the traumas of war. Contributions from players enabled us to set up a new country office in northern Iraq to serve Syrian refugees and internally-displaced women fleeing ISIS. Players have also made critical investments in our Men’s Engagement Programme and advocacy work, helping to shift harmful social norms and create a more supportive environment for women to fulfil their potential.

Recent funding, awarded by the Postcode Justice Trust, is being used to empower marginalised women in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, as they drive positive changes for themselves and their communities.

Women for Women International-DRC programme participants take part in a bread-making class. Photo: Ryan Carter
Women for Women International-DRC programme participants take part in a bread-making class. Photo: Ryan Carter

Democratic Republic of Congo

Since 2018, players of People’s Postcode Lottery have generously supported our work with marginalised women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), allowing over 1,000 marginalised women to enrol in our programme.

Hundreds of armed militia groups are operating in eastern DRC with little government intervention - killing and torturing civilians, destroying villages and spreading terror. Violence against women continues to be one of the country’s most devastating issues, while women also bear the brunt of economic insecurity.

With players' support, women are gaining vital skills and knowledge to improve break free from poverty and improve their lives. In groups of 25, they learn to earn and save, understand their rights, improve their health, and use their collective voice to change social norms. 

An independent two-year study focussing on four communities in South Kivu, DRC, found that women who participated in our programme are able to sustain measurable social and economic benefits, compared to those who did not take part in the training. Specifically, women participants reported:

  • Increased earnings. Women who had been through the programme had weekly gross earnings 1.6 times higher than women in the group who did not receive the training during the same period. .
  • Increased savings. Women’s average personal savings increased three-fold due to programme participation; mean personal savings among programme participants was $15.30 compared to $5.20 among the control group who had not yet enrolled in the training.
  • Improved agency, self-confidence and decision-making. Women participants reported feeling more in control of their lives and being able to influence household decisions.

My savings group supports each other financially but also psychologically, if one of us is going through a bad time.

Claire, Women for Women International-DRC programme graduate
Women for Women International-Afghanistan participant holds up her crochet work - one of the skills women use to earn an income. Photo: Millie Harvey
Women for Women International-Afghanistan participant holds up her crochet work - one of the skills women use to earn an income. Photo: Millie Harvey


In Afghanistan, extreme gender inequality combines with chronic poverty and decades-long conflict to restrict women’s life chances. The impacts of COVID-19 are threatening fragile gains in women and girls’ access to education, livelihoods and healthcare.

With support from players, we’ve been helping marginalised women in Afghanistan to grow their skills, confidence and networks, so they can support themselves and their families.

This year, funds raised by players will provide 300 women in Afghanistan with our holistic programme, which includes training in a vocational skill aligned to their local market – such as poultry farming, mushroom cultivation or tailoring – along with the basics of business management, so they can start to earn an income independently. As part of our Afghanistan programme, women are supported to form Self-Help Groups where they can build savings, access loans to grow their businesses, and provide each other with solidarity and encouragement as they grow their power.

A recent randomised control trial of our Afghanistan programme showed that participants were almost twice as likely to be earning money and 7 times more likely to have savings, compared to women who did not participate in our programme.

Women in my community are now excited about our opportunities and what we’ve achieved. We’ve gained self-esteem and self-sufficiency.

Gul Jan, Women for Women International-Afghanistan programme graduate
Women for Women International-Nigeria programme participants attend a socially-distanced class. Photo: Women for Women International
Women for Women International-Nigeria programme participants attend a socially-distanced class. Photo: Women for Women International


In rural communities across northern Nigeria, women’s lives and livelihoods are threatened by Boko Haram's ongoing insurgency, alongside even deadlier inter-communal violence between farmers and herders over land. 39% of women participants in our programme in Nigeria report having relocated to their community from elsewhere in the country for safety. The pandemic has compounded economic hardship and food insecurity for women already living below the poverty line.

Funds raised by players of People's Postcode Lottery are providing marginalised women in northern Nigeria with practical skills and social support to overcome these extreme challenges and build stable, resilient futures for their families.

During 2020, players' contribution enabled 600 women in northern Nigeria to enrol in our training programme and receive support to sustain their small businesses and manage household savings throughout COVID-19 lockdowns. Participants were able to use their knowledge and skills from the programme to initiate alternative income-generating activities, such as mask-making and food preparation. Thanks to players' generosity, our Nigeria team was also able to deliver vital COVID-19 awareness training in the communities where we work, and distribute food and hygiene kits to vulnerable, isolated women.

This year, players are helping us reach even more women in conflict-affected communities in Nigeria. We’re excited to be able to invest further in our networks of ‘Change Agents’ - selected graduates of the year-long programme who are nominated by their peers to undertake advanced training in leadership and advocacy. Change Agents use their skills to identify barriers affecting women in their communities - such as domestic violence and lack of property rights - and develop strategies and action plans to address them. They work together to influence local leadership, educate their peers on women's rights, and steadily shift harmful social norms. 

Being in the programme has helped me to build friendships with women of other religions and tribes. We support each other emotionally and financially when we need it.

Zainab, Women for Women International-Nigeria programme graduate

Launching our programme in Iraq

In 2018, thanks to funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery, we were able to open a new country office in the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq to serve an initial cohort of 300 women displaced by the Syrian War and ISIS insurgency in Iraq. UNHCR estimates that 1 in every 4 people in Northern Iraq is a refugee or internally displaced person (IDP).

Since its launch, the Iraq programme has continued to grow, connecting and empowering hundreds more marginalised women from different backgrounds - Syrian refugees, internally-displaced Iraqi women, and Kurdish women from the local host community. 

Raising women's voices

In addition to supporting the delivery of life-changing training programmes, players of People’s Postcode Lottery have been instrumental in helping to raise the voice of the marginalised women we serve. Through our campaigns and media work, we’re committed to bringing the realities of women in conflict-affected countries to the world’s attention.
In a powerful article published by The Independent in June 2019, we were able to help elevate the voices of women in DRC who have been affected by sexual violence. Thanks to communications support from People's Postcode Lottery, our staff in countries affected by conflict, like Chantal  – our advocacy coordinator in DRC – have been able to share their insights and expertise with an international audience.
Players have helped us deliver creative, impactful campaigns and community-building events like our #SheInspiresMe Live Festival. This awareness-raising work is essential to harnessing a global movement for gender equality and women’s rights.

We are all activists film

In 2020, funds were used to deliver our global campaign for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, urging people to take action to tackle the 'shadow pandemic' of violence against women.