Afghan women advocate for change through US-supported promote program
AT-KABUL: U.S. Ambassador John R. Bass and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah acknowledged the achievements of more than 1,500 women activists and 190 civil society organizations working to empower women across Afghanistan, honoring two years of accomplishments by beneficiaries of the USAID-funded Promote Musharikat program. Promote is a partnership between the government of Afghanistan and USAID to secure the gains in women’s empowerment realized over the last decade.
The Musharikat program launched its first three coalitions two years ago to eliminate violence, improve access to education, and remove barriers to women’s participation in the economy. Since then, civil society activists have added more issues, including women’s political participation, access to justice, and healthcare.
Ambassador Bass said the United States remains committed to supporting the rights and empowerment of women in Afghanistan. “The United States has been committed to your success for many years, and we remain committed. For this country to succeed, Afghan women must have the opportunity to succeed in whatever they choose to do.”
The coalitions formed around the key issues of political participation, access to justice, and healthcare received in-depth training on advocacy and communication skills. Six major advocacy and communication campaigns have so far been launched at the national and regional levels.
“After learning about the Access to Education Coalition’s work with the Ministry of Education to increase the number of women teachers, I could not be more pleased to see the coalition members I met two years ago bring to life their ideas for change and positively affect the lives of so many Afghan women today,” Dr. Abdullah noted.
Two coalitions—Violence Against Women and Women’s Political Participation Coalitions— discussed the impact of the advocacy and communication skills learned through the program, by reducing the incidence of forced or child marriages in Kunduz Province, as well as increasing the number of women voting in elections in Badakhshan province.
Afghan Member of Parliament Ms. Fawzia Koofi said, “Promote is the only tangible program for women’s empowerment in the provinces. It’s too bad that only one organization—USAID—is doing it.”
Promote’s goal is to support more than 75,000 women across Afghanistan with training and opportunities in government, private sector, and civil society. To date, Promote has trained 14,000 men and women as activists. In addition, Promote has provided 31 grants to support the work of civil society organizations nationwide, many in remote communities, to raise awareness of women’s participation in social and economic life and advocate for change at the sub-national level.
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