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Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

The Afghanistan Women's Empowerment Program (AWEP)

The Afghanistan Women’s Empowerment Program (AWEP)

The Afghanistan Women’s Empowerment Program (AWEP) is a project of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) that aims to advance women’s empowerment by increasing social and economic participation of women in 36 districts of Takhar, Baghlan and Bamyan provinces of Afghanistan. The beneficiaries include rural women, personnel of the Afghan Government’s Departments of Women Affairs (DoWA) and District Governor Offices (DGOs), religious leaders, the local Community Development Councils (CDCs), as well as members of civil society organizations and media. While challenges persist across the country, central and northern Afghanistan remain socially conservative and gender inequalities continue to hamper the advancement of rural women. To address these challenges, AWEP aims to 1) increase the participation of women in public life and, 2) increase the integration of women into the economy. CW4WAfghan is partnering with AKFC, and it implementing partner, Aga Khan Foundation Afghanistan (AKFA), in this project, with CW4WAfghan's role to deliver literacy education to female beneficiaries in four districts of Takhar province, over a four-year period, 2016-2020.. 

CW4WAfghan draws on its successful methods from the Afghanistan Reads! Program in delivering adult literacy classes for AWEP beneficiaries. We emphasize literacy and numeracy skills, life skills such as family nutrition and personal hygiene, reading promotion, and equipping teachers with librarian skills so they effectively engage literary learners in reading activities. Each literacy class has a small mobile library, and women take the books home to read with their families. We also continue to integrate life skills and livelihoods education into the literacy classes, to be relevant and meaningful for our rural population of new readers. View or download the life skills manual in our digital library, used in the AR program, and developed under the AWEP project, with funding from the Government of Canada. 

AWEP provides vocational training, financial access, employment opportunities, literacy and numeracy skills, and facilitation of women entrepreneurship and business networking. The program will increase opportunities and support for women’s leadership and participation at the community and sub-national level. It aims to increase awareness of communities on gender equality issues through building the capacity of community institutions, such as CDCs, Cluster-Level Development Councils and District Development Assemblies/District Coordination Councils, Community-Based Savings Groups, religious and traditional leaders as well as government institutions, such as DGOs, DoWA. Community institutions will implement projects benefitting women through micro-grants, and cascade gained knowledge and skills to their constituents. Media institutions will be trained and encouraged to capture and disseminate women development stories to the public.

AWEP is undertaken in partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and with the generous financial support of the Government of Canada



A Snapshot

Project Duration: 4 years
Project Province: Takhar
Project Districts: Kalafgan, Baharak, Warsaj, Dashte Qala
Students: 890 graduates; 450 students currently in Warsaj
Classrooms: 20 classes in two shifts completed in Kalafgan and Baharak; 10 classes active in Warsaj
Teachers: 20 in Kalafgan and Baharak; 10 in Warsaj


Kalafgan District
- 93% of the students reported that they were very satisfied with the program
- 97.8% reported that they had learned something new or useful during the program
- A post-studies questionnaire revealed that 100% learned how to read and write and are practicing reading and writing skills daily
- Students, teachers and community members visited the 10 Kalafgan libraries 915 times April - September 2017
Baharak District
- 80% of the students reported that they were very satisfied with the program
- 100% of learners reported they feel more confident about managing their daily lives
- Students, teachers and community members visited the 10 Baharak libraries 3,308 times during the period August 2017 to March 2018
- 30 teachers participated in the AR! orientation and Basic Teaching Methods workshops, which included the topics of librarianship and reading promotion
- Life skills workshops have been completed in both districts: 20 teachers, 900 students and 900 family members were trained, with 10 Warsaj teachers completing by the end of September 2018

In Their Own Words

Roya: “I am now able to read the numbers on my father’s mobile phone! The greatest change I have experienced since attending literacy classes is my increased confidence! I am now advising my elder sisters and other friends when I am needed and I have learned the ways of good communication and respecting elders.”
Lameya: “This is a golden opportunity for me and I don’t want to miss a second of it, so I come earlier than everyone and practice my lessons. I feel my dreams are coming true when I hold a book and read for myself. I share the stories with my mother and younger brother. I am also able to read some news in newspapers, TV ads and also can solve math questions. Thank you to those who support girls’ education and fund our literacy class and library!”
Fatima: “By attending the literacy course I will be a better mother for my children and will be able to help them with their studies. Since the start of the course my confidence level has increased and now life has a whole different meaningfor me. I have also made many friends in the literacy class.”

Mohsina: A Teacher's Story

"I was born in a middle class family in Takhar Province. When I was a five, I was enrolled in a government school and, luckily, I was allowed to finish. I struggled to convince my family to let me continue my educationand made it to the Faculty of Law at a private university, but facing resistance, I was forced to quit and joined GIZ (German NGO) organization as a literacy teacher. Then I found out about a posting for a literacy teacher at CW4WAfghan in our own village. I trained and soon had 45 students in my own house in two shifts. All my students are adult women who have never been in any education program. They are excited tobe here and already after a few short months they have learned to read and write all Dari alphabets and write their names and simple words. Every day, first we discuss their problems and challenges and then we solve them together.

Since joining CW4WAfghan, I have participated in two training workshops, a lifeskills workshop and a pedagogy teacher training where I learned how to teach adults, how to organize the classroom, how to prepare a lesson plan and apply it, and how to assess my students’ and many more topics. Now, I can conduct workshops for my students and I hope that, by attending these classes, their lives improve in many ways, including better managing their income and expenses, considering better hygiene and good nutrition for themselves and their families, and taking care of themselves during and after pregnancy."

MORE PROGRAM RESULTS: SIGN UP for our monthly News Bulletin to receive regular updates from our programs. Also be sure to view our Annual Reports for results achieved by our programs and projects in Afghanistan.

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Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
PO Box 86016, Marda Loop, Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2T 6B7

t: 1 (403) 244-5625

Registered Charity #887718203RR0001

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