Afghan women as agents of change
Since helping to topple the Taliban in late 2001, the United States has spent over one trillion dollars on the war in Afghanistan. The situation on the ground is undoubtedly complex and the seemingly unending conflict has produced profound pain and placed tremendous burden on Afghan women. And yet the women of Afghanistan are far more than voiceless victims. They are resilient agents of change who in spite of unimaginable hardship continue to actively transform and rise above their suffering. As we work for sustainable solutions in Afghanistan, it is vital that we prioritize the empowerment of Afghan women, for their success is a key component of lasting peace in the region. According to the largest data set on the status of women in the world to date countries where women are more empowered are less likely to experience civil conflict or to go to war with their neighbors. “Gender equality is a stronger predictor of a state’s peacefulness than its level of democracy, predominant religion, or gross domestic product (GDP).”
Training women in the Minaret Displaced Persons Camp
The Karadah Project has partnered with The Women’s Education for a Better Tomorrow Organization (WEBTO), an Afghan women-founded nonprofit working hard to support the women of Herat. A UN World Food Program Grant provides the women with food rations to feed themselves and their families as they go through the six-month program.
Nafeesa, a 26-year old woman in the program, began taking the carpet weaving classes four months ago. She shared that she began participating because her husband is addicted to drugs and she must care for her four little boys. “I learned many things from the carpet weaving classes. I now know how to weave the carpet and it helps me to not have to leave my children to go clean homes. I am coming to these classes to learn skills so that I can help my family,” Nafessa shares.
She continues, “We now have an income to buy rice and oils. We learn these skills and get food vouchers. These skills enable us to stay and work at home where we can care for our children. Before the program, we worked in the houses as cleaners and earned very little money. After joining these classes, we can now help our children and save. Thank you for bringing a change in my life!”
Nafeesa’s carpet weaving teacher is confident that as the women gain these skills, Afghan society will be significantly strengthened. “If their husbands are jobless, these women can support their families. Step by step the society can improve. I am an example of an Afghan woman who works. I am a widow and I have seven children. If I don’t work, who will support my family? My children go to school now because of my income.”
By participating in the training programs, many women are also building mental and emotional resilience. Kharzone, a twenty-eight-year-old woman in the tailoring class, expressed, “After attending these classes and spending time with the other women and teachers, I noticed psychological improvement. I can share my problems with the other women and get some help from them...These classes help me to feel strong by being able to work. These classes have empowered me.”
We are on a mission to eliminate poverty. You can partner with us. After completing the training courses, many of the women hope to open a shop and directly sell their products. One hundred more women in Minaret Displaced Persons Camp need your support. For $130.00, you can provide a courageous woman like Nafeesa the skills training she needs to move out poverty into a brighter future full of hope.
Lindsay Stanek is a M.A. candidate at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. She is concentrating on international security with a regional focus on the Middle East.
Karadah Project International
The Karadah Project International is an Iowa 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation committed to building sustainable and long-term solutions in partnership with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.