Women's Rights in Afghanistan
Afghanistan is currently one of the most difficult countries in the world for women
Political and economic insecurity, educational inequality, sexual violence, and poor health are pervasive amongst Afghan women and children, but when equipped with powerful vocational and economic tools, women can change their lives, regardless of circumstance.
In modern Afghanistan, the social and economic outlook for Afghan women has worsened:
Domestic violence, early and forced marriage, and abduction against Afghan women, with no accountability for the perpetrators.
Political and economic insecurity, sexual violence and a lack of healthcare resources are pervasive among Afghan women are prevalent following the breakdown of their freedoms and protections.
After the control of Afghanistan by the de facto government, our training center was banned, and it was very painful for me.
The exit of foreign troops and the rise of the de facto government has weakened the country’s economy. The combination of severe droughts, the demise of government services and the withdrawal of foreign aid services has left 97% Afghans at risk of living below the poverty line (estimate by United Nations Development Programme).
NO ONE HEARS OUR VOICES: AFGHANISTAN REPORT
AFGHAN WOMEN SHARE THEIR HOPES AND FEARS
In their own words, Afghan women call for women's rights, inclusion in public life, urgent economic relief and for the international community to step in solidarity with them.
About the Women we work with in Afghanistan
Our Work in Afghanistan
In the midst of the women’s rights being upended across the country, we still see remarkable fortitude among the women we serve as they strive for self-sufficiency and financial independence.
Since 2002, we have operated in five provinces of Afghanistan. Participants of our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme receive vocational training for jobs like animal husbandry, tailoring and knitting, participating in savings and self-help groups, and learn to invest in their businesses as they receive stipends. Through this curriculum, they become prepared to receive an income and invest in their own savings. They are also trained by local staff on how to embrace and defend their rights, influence decision-making in their households, and create social change in their communities.
Our programming was paused after the takeover of Kabul in 2021, during which some of our most at-risk staff and their families were evacuated. For the remaining staff, we provided mental health resources to support them during such frightening and uncertain times.
At the close of last year, the rights and freedoms of Afghan women were dealt bitter blows. On 21st December 2022, the de facto authorities imposed a ban against women attending universities, a heartbreaking development for many women in the middle of their exams. Three days later, on December 24, another ban was announced against women working for foreign aid organisations.
Thanks to our locally led team, we also secured special permission from the de facto authorities for our female staff to complete the distribution of $60 cash assistance to our programme participants, which allows women to invest in their small businesses, income-generating activities or to help meet their urgent needs. In late January 2022, our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme resumed in four provinces.
Impact of your support
Creating real change
67% of women were involved in decisions about working to earn money in their households, compared to 43% at enrollment.
Women averaged household savings of $28.24, compared to $0.16 at enrollment.
- 16% reported discussing community issues with other women, compared to 8% at enrollment.
Data reported by graduates of the Women for Women International programme in Afghanistan in 2022.
"WHERE I AM GOING AND WHERE I AM"
HEAR FROM AFGHAN WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS OUTSIDE AFGHANISTAN
The personal and professional opportunities and challenges facing Afghan women human rights defenders outside Afghanistan.
Stories from Afghanistan
One of my friends told me about Women for Women International and how it provided training for women. That’s when I learned that I wasn’t alone in my suffering. There are other women, who have the same pain.
I was very disappointed and stressed when the new government (in Afghanistan) took over because it was so hard for me to enrol in this programme, and suddenly I couldn't learn anything, but when I heard about the resuming of the programme, I was very happy.
Being in the programme, I enjoyed having the space to connect with other women in the skill-building and social empowerment classes. I was learning things that I never imagined I would have the opportunity to learn in my life.
Following the conclusion of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, read our Global Policy and Advocacy Manager Nisha Singh's reflections on the past year of global advocacy, research and programme delivery to support women in Afghanistan.
One year into the humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan and the situation continues to worsen. Read about how we at Women for Women International are supporting our Afghan sisters.
In the past 12 months, we have seen women's rights in Afghanisan roll back - and they continue to be restricted more and more.
We've compiled a list of books, blogs, podcasts, (and more!) so you can hear directly from Afghan women and learn about their inspirational and courageous stories.
In Afghanistan, women will have to wear a burqa in public. While the Taliban promised a moderate government when they took power again in 2021, more and more freedoms for women are now being curtailed.
Latifa Faqirzada worked for Women for Women International - Afghanistan for nearly four years. With the help of the UK government, she left Kabul in August 2021 during the final days of the US/UK troop withdrawal. She is currently residing in London and advocating for the women who remain in Afghanistan. This blog is her personal story.