I am a woman and I want to work.
Kabul, Afghanistan, October 2014 – ongoing.
Afghanistan is the penultimate country in the world in terms of its Human Development Index (UNDP, 2019). In 2018 TIME defined it as “the worst place in the world to be a woman”. Professional training and job can considerably improve women’s socio-economic status and give them the strength to overcome the barriers, but female training and job opportunities remain at a very low level (fewer than 16% constitute the labor force).
The project tackles the lack of relevant, qualified training and job opportunities available to women, which impacts heavily on the Afghan female population, as well as by the Government, whose strategy is to eliminate discrimination against women and ensure their full and equal participation in all aspects of life.
Phase One: 2014 – 2020
To contribute to this goal, and following the Italian Cooperation’s successful intervention, at the end of 2014 Nove Onlus opened a Female Professional Training Centre which, over the course of 6 years, has offered a free-of-charge professional training to more than 2.500 physically or socially disadvantaged Afghan women between 18 and 35 years old. The students were able to choose between different courses: English (intermediate and advanced levels), information technology, professional cooking and driving. In 2018, five advanced ICT scholarships were offered to the best students, thanks to the contribution by The Linda Norgrove Foundation. In 2019 the Centre was relocated in a governmental building at the Women’s Garden in Kabul, thanks to an agreement signed by Nove Onlus and the Ministry of Female Affairs (MoWA).
The project, run by Nove Onlus in partnership with local NGO PADA until February 2020, comprises a free-of-charge job advisory service to include job-orientation and basic entrepreneurship courses for all the students. The service has helped graduates find a paid job or improve their working conditions. This activity was carried out, between 2016-2019 in collaboration with DAI/Promote’s Women in the Economy Programme. From 2016 to December 2019, more than 430 graduated students took part in internships or were hired by companies, universities and international or local organizations such as Microfinance Bank, the Think Vision Group, Etisalat. Our students’ professional careers have been monitored in order to gauge the improvement of their socio-economic conditions at three, six and twelve months after the graduation.
The admission applications largely exceeded the number of places available. 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 – responding to the Afghan tradition of separating female students from male students. This helps the women to obtain permission to attend.
Access to education and jobs highly depends on mobility, which is very limited for Afghan women. This is why Nove Onlus, after launching the Pink Shuttle, decided to include driving in its courses, which have had a significant impact. From February 2015 to November 2018, Nove Onlus’ women’s driving school enabled 195 women to gain their driving license: highly relevant data, considering that in Kabul, only 1.189 women have obtained a driving license in five years, and that in 2017 around 25% of all women who obtained a driving license, it came from Nove Onlus’ driving school. The strong motivation that leads women to obtain a driving license is shown by the high percentage of success of the courses: between 95%-100% of the students (depending on the years) completed the course and got their licenses.
Every activity related to the project ‘I am a woman and I want to work’ has been put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If the evolution of the pandemic will allow it, 2 new driving courses for 44 women will be completed by December 2020. The courses will help to expand the Pink Shuttle service, encouraging women’s access to jobs traditionally aimed at men.
In 2021, phase two of ‘I am a woman and I want to work project’ is expected to start, encompassing:
– free-of-charge English (intermediate and advanced), information technology and coding courses, both at the Centre and, for the first time online, in order to make it possible for women living far from the Women’s Garden or who cannot attend, to access quality training for free;
– free-of-charge job-advisory services and job-research tutoring:
– micro-entrepreneurship courses and a small women’s start-up service.
Operational 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: LG Investimenti, Tavola Valdese, Altai.
For more details, contact the project manager Susanna Fioretti