Strict cultural norms in Afghanistan discourage women from pursuing employment, often forcing them to live in poverty if there are no male family members willing to support them.
Mahboba’s Promise recognises that changing Afghanistan’s strict gender roles needs to be a grass-roots, gradual process. Therefore the Tailoring and Handicraft Training Courses Project aims to give women the confidence to develop skills that are culturally appropriate and appreciated in their community.
In July 2007, Mahboba’s Promise identified that there was very little opportunity for disadvantaged women and in particular widows, to undertake vocational training or receive dignified income-generating opportunities. After consultations with the local community, Mahboba’s Promise commenced tailoring and handicraft courses for women. The Australian Embassy in Kabul assisted Mahboba’s Promise in acquiring the funds needed to establish the program.
The tailoring courses are a grass roots initiative, employing experienced Afghan tailors to educate and train the participants in both tailoring and business management skills. Upon completion of their training, the participants are given sewing machines and raw materials to assist them in starting up their own tailoring services.
By building up the capacities of Afghan women, Mahboba’s Promise aims to give participants the opportunity to positively participate in their community by enabling them to develop skills that are both highly valued and in-demand. The training program has so far enabled 120 women to develop valuable skills that empower them to generate a sustainable income for themselves and their families. 70% of program participants are now self-sufficient, either by running their own tailoring shops, operating tailoring services from their homes or selling handicrafts locally.
The positive, sustainable impact the project has had on the participants and their community has made Mahboba’s Promise Afghanistan commit to implement the course in the Panjshir Valley.