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Women Empowerment in Rural Areas in Afghanistan

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Feroz Bashari

Tuesday, 01 March 2016 09:46

There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women

Women empowerment is not limited to their participation in the government or elections. It is a broad area. By women empowerment, we mean political empowerment, economic empowerment, and social empowerment. In fact, these three areas of women empowerment are mutually reinforcing. In this article the focus is how to empower un-educated rural women in Afghanistan.

Investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth. Women make enormous contributions to economies, whether in businesses, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home. Their contribution to families is remarkable.

To improve Afghan women’s economic opportunities in rural areas, they need access to more and better jobs easily available at their neighborhood, a business climate that supports them in starting and doing business, a financial sector that gives them access to financial services tailored to their needs. This is especially true for women living in rural areas and vulnerable environments.

United Kingdom, alongside other big development projects, has been funding very effective projects in Afghanistan to economically empower Afghan women in rural areas. Helping rural women to earn a living from chicken farms is a good example.

According to a British Embassy post, over 650 women in rural Afghanistan have received support from the Comprehensive Agriculture and Rural Development Facility (CARD-F) to run chicken farms. This is enabling them to earn up to 3,000-4,000 AFN ($45-60) per month.

The post mentioned an example of a woman in Badakhshan Province. It said “Pari Gul is a mother of five children from Badakhshan Province, who was previously struggling to support her family. CARD-F provided Pari Gul with 30 hens, 200 kilograms of poultry feed, as well as essential equipment. CARD-F has delivered similar support to around 655 other women in Badakhshan province.”

Such good projects are not really communicated to a bigger audience in Afghanistan. We believe that such projects are really making a change in the lives of Afghan women in rural areas—and are good examples of women empowerment. The focus should not be merely on political empowerment only in urban areas. Now, the focus should be on how to empower rural women in order to build a connection between them and women in urban areas.

Women are not helpless in face of existing challenges. Around the world they are decision-makers for themselves, their families, villages, businesses, and governments.
Women’s economic empowerment means that women have the authority to make their own decisions regarding use of their resources, leads to prosperity for families and communities.

In addition, economic empowerment can pave the way for women to be empowered politically. Political empowerment allows women to take control of the policies that will benefit their economic standing. The story of Pari Gul tells us a lot. Her story inspires other women in her neighborhood to find sources to sponsor them to run small businesses and support themselves and their families.

Afghans urge other members of the international community to follow the steps of the U.K. and begin to support women empowerment projects in rural areas of Afghanistan. This is a real project that makes a difference.

Comprehensive Agriculture and Rural Development – Facility (CARD-F) aims to increase employment, income and business opportunities primarily targeting rural masses through the design, facilitation and implementation of commercially viable value chains supplemented with rural infrastructure projects in the target provinces of Afghanistan.