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. It will run from 2016-2020. 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.
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 will also provide vocational training, financial access, employment opportunities, literacy and numeracy skills, and facilitation of women entrepreneurship and business networking.
CW4WAfghan will draw on its successful methods from the Afghanistan Reads! Program in delivering literacy classes for AWEP beneficiaries. We will have an emphasis on reading promotion and equipping teachers with librarian skills so they effectively engage literary learners in reading activities. Each literacy class will have a small mobile library, and women will take the books home to read with their families. We will 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.
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Undertaken in partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation Canada with the generous financial support of the Government of Canada
Mohsina: A Teacher's Story
I was born in a middle class family in Takhar Province, Afghanistan. We have nine people in our family: my parents and my siblings. When I was a five years old, I was enrolled in a government school and, luckily, I was allowed to finish my school.
After passing the Kankor Exam, I was accepted at Balkh University. But unfortunately due to family restrictions, I couldn’t continue my studies there. I didn’t give up and struggled to convince my family to let me continue my education. Finally, after one year of struggling, I joined the Faculty of Law at a private university in Takhar. However, I only studied until my 2nd year because I again faced resistance. I was forced to quit the university and joined GIZ (German NGO) organization as a literacy teacher.
Four months ago I found out about a posting for a literacy teacher at CW4WAfghan in our own village. I applied and passed the written test and interview. I now have 45 students and teach them in my own house in two shifts: morning and afternoon. All my students are very excited to be present in the class and learn new things. All my students are adult women who have never been to any formal or non-formal education program before, so I use various methods while teaching them and respect their feelings. Already after two months they learned many things. They can now read and write all Dari alphabets, write their names and read and write some simple words.
Every day, first we discuss their problems and challenges and then we solve them together. I hang my students’ group work charts and their handwritings on the classroom walls to give them encouragement. I use a variety of teaching materials such as flash cards, pictures and reading books to make my lessons more attractive to the students.
Since joining CW4WAfghan, I have participated in two workshops, a pedagogy teacher training conducted by the Takhar Literacy Department 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.
I also participated in a Life Skills Workshop conducted by CW4WAfghan. This was a new topic for all of the teachers and would be for the students too. The training also included some activities that provided us the opportunity to know each other’s abilities and skills. We also received two kits, one hygiene kit and one first aid kit, at the end of the workshop. It was really wonderful because it was the first time that women got together in a free space to discuss their pregnancy issues and solve their problems. Luckily, one of the co-facilitators was a midwife, who is also CW4WAfghan’s Takhar Provincial Coordinator.
Now, I can conduct this workshop 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.