I am a woman and I want to work. Kabul

Afghanistan is still “the worst place in the world to be a woman” (Time, December 2018). Professional training and job can considerably improve female socio-economic situation and give women the strength to overcome the barriers that affect them, but female training and job opportunities remain minimal (less than 16% constitute the labor force).

In 2014, in Kabul, Nove Onlus and its Afghan partner, the Programming Agency for the Development of Afghanistan (PADA), started a project entitled ‘I am a woman and I want to work’, which was inspired by a successful initiative run by the Italian Development Cooperation. The project established a Women’s Professional Training Center that, over the course of four years, offered free tuition to 1856 women aged 18 to 35 years. The courses offered included English language (intermediate and advanced), computer skills, professional cooking and driving. A scholarship in advanced information and computer technology, funded by the Linda Norgrove Foundation, was awarded to the five best computer students.

The training center has a job & business advisory service, which facilitates access to the job market for the graduates, helps them to gain better employment or to set up small businesses, in collaboration with the DAI/Promote: Women in the Economy program. Many newly-graduated women have already started internships, or have been hired by various local and international corporates, academic institutions and organizations, such as the Microfinance Bank, Think Vision Group and Etisalat. In 2017 around 25% of all women who obtained a driving license in Kabul (80 out of 350) came from Nove Onlus Center’s driving school.

The project tackles the lack of relevant, qualified training and job opportunities available to women, which is deeply felt by the Afghan female population, as well as by the Government, the strategy of which is to eliminate discrimination against women and ensure their full and equal participation in all aspects of life. The courses are free of charge and of good quality – a rare match in Kabul – and this promotes the attendance of talented students who have no financial means. Admission is reserved for female students – a welcomed sign of respect for Afghan tradition. This helps the women to obtain permission to attend.

Due to all of these factors, the enrollment requests received by the center largely exceed the available seats (with over 1000 applications in 2018 only). Nove Onlus has responded to the high demand by extending the project although with a reduced number of trainees and courses. In 2019, the center, which has relocated to the Kabul Women’s Garden, is offering English, computer and job-orientation courses to around 300 students. In addition, a driving course has been included in the new Pink Shuttle and driving school project.

Operative partners: Programming Agency for Development of Afghanistan (PADA), DAI/Promote: Women in the Economy, Afghan Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Afghan Ministry of Women Affairs, Elderly Council Qalay Fatullah

Sponsors: The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, Ra.Mo, LG Investimenti, Tavola Valdese, Altai

For more details, contact the project manager Susanna Fioretti

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