In our training centres across Afghanistan sat thousands of brown bags filled with crucial supplies against coronavirus. Each bag held a hygiene kit, packed with hand sanitiser, soap, gloves, masks, rolls of toilet paper, and pamphlets that educate people on preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Across several provinces, over 4,700 women received hygiene kits. With these kits, women could put lessons about health and hygiene from our signature programme into practice, to protect themselves and their families from disease.
For many of the women we serve, these resources are critical. Poverty and gender discrimination make it difficult for women to afford and access health services and hygiene resources. Along with these hygiene kits, women in our programme get referrals to low-cost and free health services. The curriculum regularly teaches women about how infectious diseases spread, how to prevent contracting them, and information on maintaining good health. This knowledge helps women keep themselves and their families safe and healthy, and are valuable resources for the rest of their community, especially during outbreaks like COVID-19.
Afghanistan also stands at the corner of many factors that make it difficult to contain coronavirus. Along with a weak healthcare system, ongoing violent conflict creates a crisis of internally displaced people who move throughout the country, potentially aiding the spread of COVID-19. And when the pandemic broke loose in Iran, many Afghans came rushing home, likely bringing the virus along with them.
Our team in Afghanistan has weathered many crises in the past year to continue providing a curriculum that invests in vulnerable women and their power. Once again, they stepped up and together, packed these thousands of bags. In stations at our training centres, they distributed hygiene kits to women in the programme and even members of our Community Protection Committees (CPCs).
CPCs have two groups, one made up of women graduates of our signature programme and one of men who went through our Men’s Engagement Programme. They work to protect women from sexual and gender-based violence, and connect women to resources and information about GBV, their rights, and ensure their well-being. Their advocacy and support are crucial in a time when lockdowns and economic stress can contribute to violence against women. The training women receive on their rights, their health, and their self-worth unlocks their inner power to create change in their own lives. They pass on that knowledge and power to their families and the people around them. The COVID-19 pandemic threatens their progress as well as their health and lives.
Together with our global community, we promise to do everything we can to meet women’s needs and support women when they are most vulnerable.
*Name changed for participant’s protection