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Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

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Literacy rates among women and girls in Afghanistan have seen minimal growth in the last decade, despite the re-establishment of basic education for girls. An important reason behind this is the lack of local language print literacy material in the country, a lack of emphasis on reading in out-of-school contexts, and insufficient opportunities to read within school environments. The Afghanistan Reads! program supports community and home-based literacy classes, small village and neighbourhood school libraries starter kits, as well as community workshops run out of the libraries/literacy centres and capacity building for Afghan partner stakeholders involved in the management of the libraries and literacy classes. Together, these activities form four interlinked components for Afghanistan Reads!: 1. Literacy learning; 2. Library services; 3. Capacity development for delivering library services; and 4. Life skills learning.

These interlinked activities help reinforce literacy skills, nurture a culture of reading, and foster independent, lifelong learning, ingredients that will lead to rising literacy rates. These community-based facilities serve as hubs of learning, inquiry and life skills development with a special emphasis on women and youth in isolated circumstances, and they double as safe spaces for gatherings for local meetings, workshops, information sharing, and community planning. Projects are only established where there is strong community support for them as experience has proved that this essential for the long term success of the libraries. The buildings double as a safe space for gatherings and local meetings such as community planning and information sharing workshops. The whole community can benefit across all ages – women, men and young people. This helps build support among men for the social and economic participation of women in the community.

The combined impact of access to information and knowledge, literacy opportunities and basic education will help reinforce the ability of women and youth to exercise their rights at a broader level. This holistic approach increases the overall societal level impact of each individual activity with greater sustainable results. Developing a reading culture in Afghanistan will make literacy efforts more sustainable by enhancing formal learning with informal learning opportunities, and increasing demand for literacy materials. It will support women’s empowerment through increased educational opportunity and help transform gender roles in rural and isolated Afghan communities.

Learn more about organizations working to develop libraries in Afghanistan.

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

t: 1 (403) 244-5625
e: community@cw4wafghan.ca

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