Women in Business Hub – I am a woman and I want to work.
Kabul, Afghanistan. Project ongoing.
Afghanistan, which the newspaper TIME defined in 2018 as “the worst place in the world to be a woman”, is one of the last 20 countries in the world (169° out of 189) in terms of its Human Development Index (UNDP, 2020). Many women are denied basic human rights such as education. According to the World Bank (2018) only 30% of women above 15-year-old are literate. Vocational training and work opportunities do ameliorate women’s economic and social conditions, but the chances to get trained and find employment are slim. According to Asia Foundation (2019) the female employment rate is 10.4%.
The strategy of the Afghan Government is to eradicate any discrimination against women and ensure their full and equal participation in all aspects of life.
To contribute to this goal and follow-up a successful intervention by the Italian Cooperation, NOVE Onlus kick-started a Professional Training Centre for women in Kabul. From 2014 to 2020 the training centre ran in collaboration with the local NGO ‘Programming Agency for the Development of Afghanistan’ (PADA), which offered free-of-charge training to more than 2.500 physically or socially disadvantaged Afghan women between the ages of 18 and 35.
Taught courses: English (intermediate and advanced levels), information technology, professional cooking and driving. In four years, the driving school run by NOVE Onlus enabled 245 women to gain their license; this is key data in light of the fact that in the past 19 years only 3.732 Kabul women received a driving license.
In 2018, advanced ICT scholarships were offered to the five best students, thanks to the contribution by The Linda Norgrove Foundation. In 2019 the Professional Training Centre was relocated to a governmental building at the Women’s Garden in Kabul. This has been possible due to an agreement signed between NOVE Onlus and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA).
The job advisory service offered by the Centre facilitated the new-graduates in finding a job or improving their working conditions. The service was also useful in gauging the development of their career over a period of 12 months after the completion of the courses. From 2016 to 2019 due to the advisory service run with the support of the Program ‘Women in the Economy’ by DAI/Promote, more than 400 graduated students took part in internships or were hired by companies, universities and international/local organizations such as Microfinance Bank, the Think Vision Group, Etisalat.
The admission applications greatly 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 in gaining permission to attend.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the economic crisis in Afghanistan, harshly hitting women entrepreneurs. Even in the business-friendly Afghan provinces such as Balkh, “100 percent of female-owned businesses were halted due to the pandemic and only 50% of those businesses are currently in operation” (CEO of Balkh’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries, August 2020).
In order to handle this serious situation, in 2021 NOVE will strengthen its training centre by turning it into a Women in Business Hub (WiBH). This is a multi-disciplinary one-stop-centre, unique in Afghanistan which comprises of five components, namely:
– Cross-cutting support to the SDG 4, 5, 8, 10, 13;
– Vocational Training;
– Career Coaching;
– Business Mentoring;
– Start-up development.
At the end of 2020, NOVE organized the first edition of the ‘Daring Women in Business’ Prize held in Kabul. This award, which has been won by the best business run by a female entrepreneur, served also to launch WiBH.
In June 2021, on-site courses resumed and for the first time also online, allowing access to professional training to women from the most remote provinces, and also to those who are currently outside the country.
Operative partners: DAI/Promote: Women in the Economy, Programming Agency for the Development of Afghanistan (PADA), Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs- Kabul Department, Afghan Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Elderly Council Qalay Fatullah.
Sponsor: LG Investimenti, Tavola Valdese, Altai.
For more information, please contact the Project Manager.