"Afghan women have lost lives, family members, basic human rights, human dignity and the right to be respected. Soon they might lose something that destroys humanity. They might lose hope."
~ Afghan lawyer, Belquis Ahmadi
Afghans for Civil Society manages several programs designed to empower women and girls, improve their economic standing, civic engagement and education opportunities. Investing in their own success, local Afghan women have assumed leadership roles in several ACS initiatives, leading forums on human rights, politics, literacy lessons and running Kandahar's first independent radio and television stations. ACS is committed to providing resources so that Afghan women can take an active role in Afghanistan’s democratic society.
Special Programs:In the strict sex-segregated society of Kandahar, the majority of women are still home bound. With no public facilities available for their use, women thirst for activities and events especially made for them. In this regards, ACS sponsors all-women programs to create an avenue for women to gather and spend moments together outside of their homes. The most successful of such events has been an all women's bazaar in the fall of 2004, which not only gave women an avenue to practice their business entrepreneurship skills but also gave women an opportunity to shop freely in a safe environment.
Women’s Income Generation Project: Creating Vital Economic Progress for Afghan Women
Three decades of war has destroyed the economic structures and businesses Afghan families once relied on for support. Helping to rebuild an economic base for women in Afghanistan, ACS manages a home-based income generation project for women in Kandahar city.
This program is highly successful, with over 500 women participating all over the city and more asking to be included every day.
While Afghan women have been denied education and professional training during the Taliban, they kept an incredible skill that aids them through their daily struggles – doing fine hand-embroidery known as Khamak.
The Women's Income Generation Project (WIG) focuses on these skills, selling finished khamak pieces in different markets and returning the profits back to the women.
ACS also coordinates programs for participants to complement WIG, such as managing home literacy programs, providing mobile public health services and vocational training. These efforts make a tremendous difference in improving the status of women in Afghanistan.
Not only does the Women’s Income Generation Project generate income for the home but also helps Afghan women stitch together hope for a better future.
No matter where you maybe in the world there are several ways to support WIG and other Afghan women. Visit the project’s page and learn how to get involved building progress in Afghanistan.
Kandahar Women’s Shura: Developing Democracy at the Grassroots Level
Community councils, known as shuras, have played a critical role in Afghan society for generations. The Arabic word for “consultation,” a shura is used to help resolve conflicts, decide on local issues, educate citizens and respond to the community's needs.
Today, the shura tradition has become a vehicle through which Afghan women are assuming leadership roles to improve the standard of life in their communities.
The Kandahar Women’s Shura serves as a women-only forum for ordinary women to present community problems, solutions and other issues. With growing insecurity in the Kandahar province, ACS feels it is still important to provide a space for women to speak their opinions and work as one community.
The Kandahar Women's Shura has regular meetings to discuss and solve local women's problems and participate in grassroots civic engagement.
Thanks to this program and others like it, "Women are taking steps to actively get involved in social and political issues of their nation. Women have resumed their meetings and gatherings to discuss their situations and learn methods to improve the lives of their sisters," wrote ACS Field Director Rangina Hamidi in a recent report.
With help from National Endowment for Democracy, the 11 members of the Kandahar Women’s Shura are well on their way to developing strong female involvement in local governance issues.
Visit the Kandahar Women’s Shura page
Literacy Classes: An Investment in Afghan Women
On the request of women participating in Afghans for Civil Society’s WIG Project, ACS has started a home-based tutoring program for women and girls in Kandahar. Many international organizations measure Afghan women’s literacy rate at just 14%. After years of war and instability and with increasing instability in the region, many Afghan parents are reluctant to send their children to schools again.
ACS has stepped in to provide literacy education not only to young girls, but also to women denied their education by the Taliban. The women and girls in the home-based tutoring program are eager to learn and expand their opportunities. The program has increased students’ self-esteem and instilled a strong sense of pride in their abilities.
By providing this program, ACS has acted to fulfill a vital demand for educating Afghanistan’s future.
Visit the Home Base Education Initiative page
Afghan Girls College Prep Tutoring
In August 2006, ACS started a 5 month college preparatory program for 50 young Afghan women preparing to take the university entrance examinations called Konkor. ACS has arranged for professors from Kandahar University to provide local tutoring for the exam at a community site.
All 50 young women participated in the examination on December 20, 2006! ACS hopes that this program has helped to mark a significant step at making higher education more accessible to young Afghan women.
Women's Resource Center: Providing a Community Space for Afghan Women
Afghans for Civil Society’s Women’s Resource Center is a space where women participants hold meetings twice a month. The center provides a library, meeting space, an internet facility and information board for women's activities in Kandahar.
Recently women from the center decided to address issues of violence against women through personal narratives. The women decided to record life stories of their own and of other women to document those narratives. They hope that through offering these stories people will become sensitized to the issue of violence in the community and learn from these histories so that the pain will not continue for another generation.
The individuals at the Resource Center make up thriving young women who show promise for Southern Afghanistan in the future.