In spite of massive efforts to remove violence against women, women in Afghanistan are still experiencing the most traumatic lives and often are victims of early marriage, domestic violence, denial of inheritance right and other harassments. Though Women Protection Centers (WPC) for such victims seem to be heaven to take refuge in, but joining WPC for them means to cut all family ties due to threat of honor killing. Since these women usually are illiterate and financially dependent, the challenges become more critical. So, WPCs besides provision of food and shelter are determined to build capacity of the attendees and ensure their financial empowerment.
EQUALITY for Peace and Democracy Afghan has undertaken initiatives to empower women in protection centers with the support of Afghan Women’s Skills Development Centre (AWSDC). EPD and AWSDC jointly have conducted skill trainings, such as tailoring, management and marketing for women including women of WPC to build their capacity and support their economic empowerment. EPD, has also conducted a research entitled “Barriers to Women Entrepreneurs’ Access to Market” to measure the size and growth potential of specific trades in local and regional markets. It assesses the opportunities where women can invest to start their business as well the challenges they may face and the recommendations to remove them. Based on this research report, an advocacy toolkit was prepared to advocate for women’s economic empowerment. Next step is spreading awareness and engaging different institutions to encourage support of women in WPCs through dialogues in different community, national and international levels.
On 28th August 27, 2016 EQUALITY for Peace and Democracy jointly with Afghan Women Skill Training Center (AWSDC) conducted the second round of provincial dialogue in Kabul. The dialogue gathered 20 members together representing governmental and non-governmental organizations to raise awareness and share the main findings of EPDs rapid assessment of the markets in Afghanistan and empowerment of women in Women Protection Centers and reintegrate to the society. The participants were selected from different institutions who are supporting women or somehow involved in removing violence against women and have the authority to change the policies and law enforcement to support women. They were including representative from Kabul Governor Office, the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), Ministry of Justice, Ministry of women’s Affairs, National NGO and Religious and community elders.
The program was inaugurated by a presentation conducted by Mr. Maseehullah Farahmand, the program officer at EPD briefing the participants about the main finding of the aforementioned research carried out by EPD. Followed by that a group work was facilitated and the participants were divided into groups of four to discuss about women’s role in economic empowerment of the country, women empowerment, supporting women’s entrepreneurships and the possible opportunities where women can invest and start their business. There was census among the participants on increasing awareness. The participants argued that though women have some homemade production such as handicraft and pickles but lack of knowledge for promoting them and access to market remains a main factor to fail their business. According to the participants, increasing awareness and education are key issues to support women entrepreneurship.
The participants were also found this chance to share their ideas. Ms. Noorzia Yousufzai Charkhi, the representative from Kabul Governor Office emphasized that women should be empowered to stand on their own feet and financially be independent. She added that violence against women is not only an issue geographically limited to Afghanistan, instead it is an international issue. Furthermore, a religious leader insisted that women should continue their study. He said that women should acquire higher education and participate in different levels of the society.
The program was concluded by a presentation conducted by a representative of AWSDC about the activities which this institution has done for empowering women in WPCs and removing violence against women.