Hand in Hand partners with CARE in Afghanistan

01 Apr 2019

Women’s rights in Afghanistan has been a volatile topic for decades. In 2004, not long after years of oppressive Taliban rule, a new constitution was established. This new constitution restored women’s civil rights and empowered them politically, mandating that women must hold at least 27 percent of the seats in Afghanistan’s parliament.

Progress was made, and women had a voice again.

The only problem? For the past ten years, there actually hasn’t been much progress. According to World Bank, from 2008 to 2018, women consistently held 27.7 percent of seats in parliament, with no growth at any point. Additionally, the number of women registering to vote as well as the support for female voting rights are declining each year.

Recognising this dilemma, and with generous support from the Hilti Foundation, in December Hand in Hand partnered with CARE Netherlands and CARE Afghanistan to create a more sustainable political future for Afghan women by testing the following hypothesis:

If we empower women economically, we empower them politically.

For the next two years, Hand in Hand and CARE will focus on women in eight different districts of Afghanistan, separating them into three groups. In one group, CARE will execute their Every Voice Counts (EVC) programme, designed to foster higher levels of political engagement among women by connecting them to decision-makers and training them on how to advocate for change in their communities. In another group, Hand in Hand will execute our business training model, equipping women with essential skills so they can start their own micro-enterprises. In the third group, CARE and Hand in Hand will work together to execute both programmes simultaneously.

While all three groups will benefit, we’re particularly interested in what happens to the third. What will happen if Hand in Hand combines our business and skills training with CARE’s work helping women advocate for change in areas like gender-based violence and women’s health? Does earning an income – and possessing the skills that entrepreneurship implies – make women more confident to speak up in local forums?

The programme will conclude in December 2020, by which time we aim to create 990 jobs, improve life for some 7,000 Afghans, and have a better understanding of how women’s political and economic empowerment combine to make a more equal world.

Improved women’s empowerment

990 jobs created

7,000 lives improved