The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has recently announced several programs aimed at empowering women and girls in Afghanistan.
The three-year women’s empowerment project launched last week aims to strengthen the Ministry of Women’s Affairs’ (MoWA) capacity to support women. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs Organizational Restructuring and Empowerment Project (MORE), which will be implemented in partnership with The Asia Foundation, will support the delivery of key components of MoWA’s National Priority Program: institutional reform and organizational capacity building, public awareness and education, outreach, and news-media relations. Institutional reform will be achieved through employee trainings on policy leadership and advocacy, human resource management, financial management, and other areas, as well as a scholarship program for MoWA employees. Outreach will be supported through door-to-door campaigns, workshops, and seminars, and there will be a special grant to fund outreach in the provinces. The project will also strengthen ties between MoWA and other Afghan ministries to encourage other ministries to incorporate gender into their own policy development.
Another USAID program, aimed at increasing literacy of Afghan women and girls, will provide 840 women with literacy classes and establish 40 community libraries. The two-year project, called Afghanistan Reads, aims to improve the educational status of women and girls by strengthening reading comprehension and increasing access to reading materials. Currently, out of about 146,000 students in medical, technical, and vocational higher education institutes, 17 percent are female. USAID partnered with the Linda Norgrove Foundation and Canadian Women for Women Afghanistan to fund the program.
In a press release, USAID said, “The United States applauds the progress Afghan women and girls have made over the past 10 years. We will continue to stand with and work closely with Afghan women.”
USAID also announced that it will contribute $55 million to assist the Independent Election Commission with budget needs for Afghanistan’s April 2014 elections, and that it will continue to support the Ministry of Public Health.