Four decades of conflict and the Taliban’s regressive, conservative attitudes have had a dramatic impact on Afghan women’s rights. This has affected their access to education, healthcare, and adequate income. Displaced, widowed, and marginalised, Afghan women were locked out of the workforce under the Taliban rule. With no means to support themselves or their families, many faced abject poverty.
With the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Afghanistan inherited an economy with few jobs to support its people. In the following two decades, young Afghans were forced to create their own jobs and grow their own businesses to be economically viable. However, whilst representing almost half of Afghanistan’s population, women made up less than 30% of its paid workforce. The majority of women were either engaged in unpaid work such as domestic duties and childcare, or employed in informal work with heavy workloads that had a negative impact on their health.
Based on research by the World Bank, investing in women is one of the most effective ways to reduce inequality and facilitate economic growth. Women are fundamental in the growth and sustainability of Afghanistan’s future. Education must remain a key focus to enable the girls of Afghanistan to develop key skills to bring about sustainable change within the society. Established in 2003, the Abdara Girls School, started by Mahboba’s Promise in the Panjshir Valley has seen hundreds of graduates, with some continuing to tertiary education. Similarly, the charity’s Helen Miller Midwifery program in Parwan province provides young, rural women from underprivileged backgrounds with formally recognised training in nursing and maternal care.
Other programs, including the Parwan Community Garden, Women’s Dairy Co-op, and Permaculture Farm in the outskirts of Kabul, are designed to be self-sustaining, providing fruit and vegetables for the local community, whilst empowering marginalised widows with training and work opportunities.
Ongoing International support is integral in arming Afghan women with the skills needed to achieve self-sufficiency. Under Mahboba’s vision, Hundreds of girls and women have been empowered with skills and experience to determine the direction of their lives. The programs have restored hope and dignity to women, resulting in more productive workers, healthier and better-educated individuals, and, ultimately, more prosperous communities.
To learn more about Mahboba’s Promise current projects, please click here.
– Banafsheh Serov