Since the Bonn Agreement, the Afghan government has implemented a range of progressive laws for women such as the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law (EVAW law). However, many reports indicate that there is a gap between de jure gender equality and de facto gender equality that is, women do have many legal rights in Afghanistan but they are hardly enforced due to a lack of good governance, conservative social norms and cultural practices, unawareness among women themselves, and continuing instability across Afghanistan.
During this project EPDs Provincial Coordinators after having been trained in Kabul conducted trainings for male religious leaders (khateebs), justice officials (prosecutors) and civil society leaders in their respective provinces including Kabul, Nangarhar, Herat and Balkh. The aim was to change the perceptions of local male norm-setters who can support eliminating harmful practices and reconsider social norms that contribute to VAW. The documentary ‘Six Days’ documentary was also screened. The film both raised awareness of the struggles of women in daily life around the world, and also the struggles of women’s rights defenders and advocates on behalf of women’s issues.
In terms of tailoring, 30 selected women were trained to use Afghan fabrics and develop cloths that are both fashionable and culturally-sensitive in Afghanistan to set up their small businesses. In terms of management, the other 30 selected women were given professional management and leadership trainings. The training enabled them to cultivate their management skills, which is indispensable for an aspiring small business owner.
The project engaged EPD’s 120 Provincial Women Network (PWNs) members and their provincial coordinators in four targeted provinces; by providing them a platform to galvanize and voice their concerns on challenges and constraints of women and girls at their respective communities. Other direct beneficiaries involved a total of 80 male religious leaders (khateebs), local justice sector officials (prosecutors) and civil society leaders who received training by EPD on women’s right and Islam. Additionally, 60 vulnerable women benefited from the tailoring, marketing and management training in hosted by EPD in Kabul. EPD also screened a documentary ‘Six Days’ with community members in 4 provinces during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender violence, where 400 men and women attended.
Furthermore, EPD along with its partner; AWEC conducted Community dialogues in the form of talk shows and advertisement and broadcasted in central and local TV channels that functioned as a gender parity cognizance and role of girls in shaping afghan society. In addition to this, a writing contest on girls’ empowerment and participation was organized by AWEC in 4 provinces around the International Day of the Girl. The best articles were published in the AWEC weekly newsletter “Zan-e-Afghan-Zameen”. AWEC also conducted a one-week photography and photojournalism training course for 120 girls in the four provinces; the competitive winner’s pictures were subsequently published in the Zan-e-Afghan-Zameen weekly newsletter to put the successful girls into the limelight.
Moreover, AWEC hosted a contest to identify local women who made a contribution to their family/community. As a result, 10 women from diverse ethnic groups were identified and their courageous stories were published in weekly newsletters. These women were subsequently invited to Kabul for an event gathered on International Women’s Day. Also, a provincial tour for the 10 selected women was organized during which they travelled to three provinces namely Herat, Balkh and Kabul (Nangarhar was not included due to security reason) and inspired other women by their experiences. One of the major challenges faced by AWEC during implementation of this particular activity was that due to security issues, AWEC remained unable to select any women from Nangarhar, as a result of which they identified one woman from Paktiya. It is worth noting that, based on these women’s stories; AWEC published a book entitled “Unsung Heroes of Afghanistan”. The book was widely distributed among educational centers and public libraries in four provinces.