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Economic empowerment; MAIL inaugurates agriculture training center for women

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) inaugurated the agriculture production, demonstration and training center for women in Pillawary (silkworm) Farm here on Saturday aimed at economic empowerment of women.

Deputy Minister of MAIL, Mir Amanuddin Haidari, said that the main propose of the agricultural training center is expansion and provision of facilities to women in order to have effective role in enhancement of their family incomes.

He said that the training center would be equipped with necessary technology so the rural women could be able to increase their incomes by acquiring new experiences and trainings.

The deputy minister said that the project was only for rural women in Kabul and is a typical project. After getting positive results the agriculture ministry would establish such farms in the provinces.

“The evaluation shows that the farm has brought positive changes in women’s livelihood and created job opportunities for women,” he said.

MAIL is committed to provide facilities to women in areas of professional knowledge, production, processing, marketing and provision of lands, he added.

Afghan first lady Rula Ghani termed role of women vital in expansion of agriculture and domestic production and stressed that women comprised half of the population and if they are encouraged, Afghanistan will no longer be threatened by food insecurity.

She pointed out that Afghan silk was famous in the world but due to over three-decade of wars, the production halted. She asked the MAIL to provide facilities to women to have significant contribution in production of silk.

Deputy Minister of Women Affairs, Fowzia Habibi, said that still Afghan women as a workforce had not received the required government support.

She said the projects that were allocated for women have not created durable sustainability for their productions.

Ms Habibi asked the international donors and the relevant administration to endeavor hard for sustainability of women productions and find markets at the international level.

Senior Deputy Country Director for UNDP, Jocelyn Mason, said that in Afghanistan women involvement in agriculture sector is critical, 80 percent of Afghanistan labour forces involved in agriculture sector.

He said the center provides a number of training programs on business development, agriculture productions and gender services, adding that the UNDP Afghanistan is strongly committed to support women in Afghanistan.

Around 100 women went through the trainings and gained experiences about advanced agricultural methods in the center established with financial support of the UNDP. It is part of the UNDP’s the Gender Equality project aimed to support women’s economic empowerment initiatives.

Two months ago, MAIL in collaboration with five universities of the United States launched a scheme to promote women’s role in the agricultural sector through training programs. The scheme was launched in Kabul, Balkh, Parwan, Nangarhar and Kapisa provinces.

The training programs include methods of vegetable gardening, livestock management and apiculture.

Minister of MAIL, Assadullah Zamir, said that women farmers comprise 40 to 45 percent of agriculture labor force in Afghanistan. He said that economic growth of the country was not possible without improvement of agriculture sector.

It is worth to mention that international community has expressed serious concerns over violence against women and minimum representation of women in the administration. To empower women, different countries have pledged support.

This year in May, India based Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), the world’s largest women’s cooperative, announced to train over 3,000 Afghan women in various skills to empower them economically.

The USAID’s Acting Administrator, Alfonso Lenhardt, announced recently in India a new $1.5 million, three-year award to the SEWA, which has more than 1.9 million members, that will help it to train the Afghan women.

USAID said SEWA will partner with government and civil society stakeholders in Afghanistan and India to train more than 3,000 Afghan women across five provinces in vocational skills including embroidery, garment stitching, food processing and jewelry making, as well as in leadership and marketing.

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