Afghanistan, Kabul: Women Education, Professional Training and Job Placement

Project location: Afghanistan, Kabul
Project start date: October 2014 - Project end date: October 2015
Project number: 2014-022
Beneficiary: Associazione Nove Onlus


‘An investment in knowledge pays the best interest' (Benjamin Franklin)
Instability, oppressive regimes and other factors made Afghanistan one of the poorest countries in the world. The Human Development Index (HDI), places it near the bottom of the list of countries with the lowest human development. According to the National Action Plan for Women in Afghanistan (NAPWA) women are "in a poverty trap that causes their poor health, low education, deprivation of rights, and disempowerment, which collectively contribute to their continued poverty. Poor, uneducated, unhealthy mothers tend to raise poor, uneducated and unhealthy children."

Data by the Afghan Ministry of Woman Affairs (MoWA) and the Afghan Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA), along with field-based researches, show that quality-education and job-opportunities are the keys to empower Afghan women, defeat poverty, promote their dignity and achieve a positive social change.
This project received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation. It addresses the needs of education and qualified training of Afghan women, through adult literacy and job-oriented training courses, followed by job-placement.

After decades of female subordination in Afghanistan, women and girls remain under-educated and under-employed. The historically marginalized position of women in Afghan society - dramatically deteriorated under the subsequent rules of the Mujahedeen (1992-1996) and the Taliban (1996-2001) - caused a feminization of poverty and increased the number of vulnerable women, especially widows (Afghanistan has 1.5 million widows, one of the highest proportions in the world). Although in recent years there has been a significant push to increase women's literacy and professional education, according to the Government figures, only 26% of Afghanistan's population is literate and among women the rate lowers to 12%.

Women remain as well significantly underrepresented in professional training courses and arte strongly motivated to improve their skills to overcome stereotypes and prejudices, as demonstrated by the huge training and job-demands largely exceeding availability. The project's paramount intent is to support women's right to dignity, education and self-sufficiency.

The project is implemented with the local partner, the Programming Agency for Development of Afghanistan (PADA). It focuses on the creation of a Women's Training Centre, offering destitute women free literacy classes, professional training and job-placement services. All the courses follow the National Skill Development Program (NSDP) curricula, and are held by skilled trainers. At the end of the courses a commission composed of senior trainers, members of PADA and NSDP (which delivers the official graduation certificates), will evaluate the trainees. An experienced employment advisor will assist those beneficiaries who have successfully completed the courses in finding a job both in the public and private sectors, or in starting an independent activity.

Project Details

The project adopts tested procedures that optimise a correct selection of the beneficiaries and their effective education/training, as well as fostering job opportunities. A committee composed by members of Nove Onlus, Pada, the Ministry of Women Affairs and the Elderly Council of the District jointly select the applicants, considering their economic and social status, as well as their motivation and capacity to attend. Nove Onlus senior gender expert sets up the training centre's management procedures and monitoring tools, and supervises the entire process.
340 vulnerable women undergo one of the professional training-programmes (English, Computing, Cooking & Catering), 45 attend instead the Adult Literacy Courses. The job placement service offered by the project supports the trained women to find a job or start an independent activity.
Collaboration with the local authorities is crucial in gaining the approval and endorsement of the trainees' families, which is key to the project's success. It also allows the dissemination of good practices and project's results in order to raise its visibility and link the trained women to the public employment.

Security is the major challenge that the project has to face, given that Afghanistan is still politically unstable. This risk is reduced through the collaboration with the local partner PADA, a well-grounded non-governmental organization, experienced in dealing with security issues.

The expected results of the project:
• A centre for professional training and literacy is fully equipped and operational in Kabul
• The training methodology is established in agreement with the relevant Afghan Governmental Institutions and shared with the local partner;
• 340 women have access to free professional training courses;
• 45 women have access to free literacy courses.
• At least 300 successful graduates have access to the programme employment services. This figure, not including those women attending the literacy courses, is calculated estimating that out of the 340 women attending the professional trainings there will be a 12% of dropouts.

The project starts its implementation phase in October 2014 and lasts 12 months.

Each trained woman will achieve a personal empowerment and become a small but powerful instrument of cultural change, which leads by example, thus encouraging many more women to follow the same path. The project's key documentation and results, shared with Governmental Institutions and other organizations, will promote the implementation of similar projects in the country. The know how acquired by the local partner PADA and involved government staff is the key to expand and replicate the module in other areas of the country, where the demand is very high.
Hence, the project encourages innovative forms of personal, social and economic evolution. A small yet relevant contribution to the empowerment of Afghan women and their country, made possible by the grant received by Nando Peretti Foundation.

In 2016 the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation has awarded a grant for the second year, expected to be completed by January 2019.

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