Women’s Empowerment

Since taking office in 2014, the National Unity Government has invested resources in empowering women. Key elements of the government’s women’s empowerment strategy, as laid out in the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework includes implementing the UN SCR 1325 National Action Plan; implementing the NUG’s Women’s Economic Empowerment National Priority Program; ensuring women’s full access to education and health services; increasing women’s participation in government and business; and securing the constitutional rights for women through full review and execution of Afghan law.

Achieved (2/5): 40.0 Achieved (2/5): 40.0 %Partially achieved and on-going (3/5): 60.0 %Partially achieved and on-going (3/5): 60.0 %Partially achieved and on-going (3/5)Percentage: 60.0

– Implementation of UN Resolution 1325; Implementing our global commitments on human rights, security, and freedom from domestic violence for Afghan women;

 PROGRESS: – Partially achieved and on-going.
•    The National Action Plan (NAP) on UNSCR 1325 was launched by the President on 30 June 2015 and the second annual report for the UNSCR 1325 Action Plan was launched on July 31, 2018. 37 out of 39 deliverables have been achieved. A joint working group composed of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, representatives from the international community and donors and representatives from civil society have discussed and completed the costing of the operations for the NAP 1325.

– Ensuring full access to education and health services, including higher education;

 PROGRESS: – Partially achieved and on-going.
  • As part of the Women’s Economic Empowerment National Priority Program, over 3,000 female teachers have been recruited in every province across the country through transparent recruitment processes via the Civil Service Commission, with the goal to hire 30,000 female teachers over the next few years. 900 midwives in communities across Afghanistan have been trained. 7,000 more teachers will be hired in 2018.
  • Major reforms in the education sector have launched in 2018, including constructing new schools, expanding transportation for girls to reach schools safely, increasing hygienic facilities in schools, and increasing the number of female teachers.
  • A working group of the government has started planning for a women-only university that will be run and operated by women. The project was launched in January 2016 by First Lady Rula Ghani. The National Unity Government has allocated free land for this institution and the Turkish government has committed funding.
  • The Ministry of Public Health convened the Breast Cancer Prevention and Advocacy Campaign with the support of First Lady Rula Ghani in October 2014. Afghanistan’s first outpatient department designated for cancer diagnosis has been opened in Kabul. Furthermore, the Afghan government recently allocated land for a hospital dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
  • 50,225 Afghan women are studying at university, an increase of 6% or 3,000 compared to 2016. Women account for 33% of students matriculating in the upcoming academic year. Women account for 14% of university lecturers, with some 782 women leading classrooms in Afghan institutions of higher learning. Nearly 50,000 women took part in the 2017 Kankur University entrance exam after the process was reformed. In the 2018, a female student placed number one amongst all Kankur examination students.
  • 30% of scholarships are allocated to women by the Ministry of Higher Education. More than 200 female students have been referred to private educational institutions and provided them with partial scholarships. Women account for 14% of university lecturers, with some 782 women leading classrooms in Afghan institutions of higher learning.
  • Afghanistan in on-track to reach its goal to eliminate illiteracy by 2030. In Bamyam province, 16,000 people, 76 percent of them women, have attended 621 literacy courses to learn reading and writing. The Ministry of Education will expand literacy training to over 160,000 women across the country.
  • The Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUP) program run by the Ministry of Education and World Bank stablished 356 School Management Shuras (councils) and helped refurbish hundreds of schools. It closed in December 2017, and the World Bank is currently working with the Ministry of Education to prepare a follow-on project to increase equitable access to primary and secondary education in provinces that are lagging behind, especially in girls education, and to improve learning conditions and transparency in the Ministry of Education’s resource management.
  • A World Health Organization and Afghan Ministry of Public Health project brought about positive changes in Afghan health care providers’ knowledge, attitudes and practice in providing services to survivors of gender-based violence (GBV). 2,892 health care providers were trained on treatment protocol for victims of GBV in 7 provinces. The training ended in September 2017 and was the first stage of a 5-year project by WHO and the Ministry of Public Health, which aims to train overall 6500 health care providers, including doctors, nurses and midwives, across Afghanistan’s health facilities in all 34 provinces on how to properly manage cases of GBV, including physical, sexual and psychological violence, by 2020.

– Launching the Women’s Economic Empowerment National Priority Program

 PROGRESS: –Achieved.
  • The National Priority Program for the Economic Empowerment of Women  (WEEP NPP) was launched in March 2017, and has so far supported 70,000 women in agricultural activities, including kitchen, gardens, nurseries and greenhouses, and supported 35,000 women in the livestock sector, including provision of livestock, technical support, and provision of inputs. Over 3,000 female teachers have been recruited in every province across the country through transparent recruitment processes via the Civil Service Commission, with the goal to hire 30,000 female teachers over the next few years. 900 midwives in communities across Afghanistan have been trained.
  • The Innovation Trust Fund concept has been approved. The Innovation Fund is a program to support small innovative business ideas. A firm is currently being hired to administer the fund in a competitive process.
  • 668 female businesswomen have had the opportunity to market their products in 28 handicrafts exhibitions in the center and provinces.
  • More than 220,000 women benefited from Sustainable Agricultural Income Programs in urban, semi-urban, and rural areas
  • 6,000 women benefited from the Economic and Social Empowerment Program in refugee camps.
  • Further achievements by sector include:                                                                           
  • Data collection and policy:
  • A Senior Gender Statistic Specialist is being hired to help the National Information and Statistics Authority fulfill a new mandate to collect better and more extensive data on gender across the country to better inform policy and programming.
  • A complete review was completed of all legal barriers that are blocking women from achieving economic empowerment, and referred to the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Women’s Affair, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and President’s Office for further action
  • Employment and skills:
  • In 2018, 24 programs midwife training programs were provided in 23 provinces for 613 midwifery students, and 21 nursing training programs were provided to 457 students from 20 provinces  
  • 263 female health workers were trained in psychosocial counseling, as well as in collecting data and figures for violence cases and standardized guidelines for Gender-based violence
  • 300 female health workers were trained in early childhood care, family planning, prevention of STDs, and child care.
  • Nutrition counselors were hired in 18 provinces to conduct nutrition counseling training for 969 counselors.
  • The Afghanistan Midwifery and Nursing Council (AMNC) was established in 2018 to provide accreditation, licensing and monitoring of public and private hospitals in the field.
  • Education:
  • ]Increase in the number of female students in higher educational institutes. 24.21% of public universities’ and 25.24% of private universities’ students are female
  • Development and implementation of policy on prevention of sexual harassment and a gender strategy for public and private educational institutions, and establishment of policy implementation and complaints review committees
  • 3,000 female students enrolled in university following 2016/2017 Kankor examinations
  • ]Provision of masters and community college scholarships for 27 female students
  • Provision of 91 international master scholarships, and 288 in-country master scholarships for female students in 2017
  • Allocation of a minimum of 30% scholarships to female candidates, based on the Regulation on Scholarships
  • Building and equipping two workplace kindergartens located at the Ministry of Higher
  • Education and Medical University of Kabul
  • Procurement of 25 vehicles transport female students to universities in several provinces
  • Total number of female students has reached to 3,564,150 in 2017, which comprises 39% of all students accounted for by Ministry of Education
  • •    Community Based Education (CBE) was provided to children living in remote areas Through these programs 194,759 female students accessed primary education
  • Out of 17,859 schools in the country, 2,712 are girl’s schools, 15% of total schools
  • 8,766 schools are set for various class shifts for girls and boys
  • The total number of female teachers including recruited and contract based teachers reached to 70,381, 33% of the total number of teachers across the country
  • A policy has been designed to hire females in education management positions
  • Workshops on Gender Issues, Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Internet and Computer Basic Principles, Proposal writing, National Women’s Work Plan, Gender Mainstreaming, Leadership, women’s rights and human rights, were conducted for 874 Ministry of Education employees
  • A comprehensive plan is underway to hire 30,000 female teachers nationwide. To date, more than 2,485 female teachers have been recruited across 34 provinces
  • In 2017, Ministry of Education provided 9,566 literacy courses for female students throughout the country in accordance with established criteria and standards.
  • Access to finance:  
    • Ministry of Women’s Affairs conducted an assessment on barriers for women accessing loans and financing. Most women do not own property. The Central Bank has impacted a new law for registration of immovable properties, but this law was being ignored by most financial institutions. To address the issue, the policy of small loans intends to include both movable and immovable properties such as gold, marriage certificate and government employee’s ID cards as guarantees for loans.
    • Allotting 30% of exhibition booths for women entrepreneurs in national trade and commercial exhibits, most for free
    • Conducted exclusive exhibitions for women products
    • Obtaining financial support from international donors to promote the participation of women in foreign exhibitions; for instance, the presence of more than 30 women at the Indian International Trade Fair (IITF), with the financial support of USAID.
  • Agriculture:
  • Distributed 364 units of machinery for drying, food processing and packaging to 1,820 women in 10 districts of Kabul province
  • Provided 35,530 (one yard) kitchen gardens with drip irrigation system and agriculture tools, to 35,530 women in 113 districts across 34 provinces
  • Provided 51 small green houses for 8,500 women in 17 provinces
  • Provided 14,946 small poultry farms in 64 districts across 9 provinces
  • Provided extension services to 50,911 women across 161 districts in 34 provinces
  • Recruited 62 professional women in the directorates and development projects of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock across the provinces

– Securing the constitutional rights for women through the full execution of our laws

 PROGRESS: – Partially achieved and on-going.
  • Major reforms in the justice sector have increased the number of women in the courts and Attorney General’s Office (AGO). After a country-wide recruiting effort to bring gender balance into the justice sector, there are now 476 female prosecutors across the country, including 80 new female prosecutors, and the number of female employees increased from 3% to 17%. Women are leading nine of the AGO’s directorates. Forty-four women work across 24 provinces under the gender and human rights directorate. An internship program for 242 female graduates of sharia and law faculties was implemented at AGO.
  • There have been major changes at the Attorney’s General Office to make sure that the EVAW law is implemented across the country, including appointing a new Deputy Attorney General for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Shina Mansoor.  EVAW courts have been established in 15 provinces, with EVAW prosecutors and EVAW committees working in every province. As of November 2017, EVAW units had recorded and tracked 1,726 cases of violence against women in the previous eight months. Deputy Attorney General Mansoor ran a pilot program in Kabul province to review the handling of EVAW cases at each police station, and provide training accordingly to law enforcement on how to handle such cases. A scaled evaluation is planned across the provinces.
  • The Supreme Court has established Special Tribunals (Dewan Khas) for the elimination of violence against women in 15 provinces (Herat, Balkh, Kapisa, Jowzjan, Sarepul, Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhar, Ghazni, Bamyan, Ghor, Daikondi, Nangarhar, Faryab, and Kandahar). 20% of the Supreme Court staff are women, with a total of 553 women, including 265 female judges.
  • The President has issued a decree ordering the review of all cases of women detained on accusation of so-called moral crimes. Out of 402 women detained, 255 have already been released. The support of the First Lady played a vital role in the establishment of the female prison at Pul-e-Charkhi.
  • The President introduced the first Afghan woman as Supreme Court judge, after engaging the Ulema to release a Fatwa condoning the nomination. The nomination however did not pass the vote in the Parliament. In July 2018, President Ghani re-introduced the same candidate, Anisa Rasouli, as Supreme Court judge to the Parliament.
  • \In order to prevent the imprisonment of women accused of running away from their family, the President recently asked the Supreme Court to issue a ruling on the application of article 130 of the Constitution that has been the basis for the courts’ decision to sentence such women. In December 2015, the Supreme Court issued a judicial ruling that bars judges from imprisoning women for running away from family.  Running away from home is not defined as a crime by law, but sentencing had resulted from a misinterpretation of a constitutional provision—this has now been stopped.
  • A number of legislative reforms have been undertaken to ensure women’s rights, including:
    • The new penal code, published in February 2018, included a reduction in sentencing for so-called ‘moral crimes’ committed, and removed discretionary authority from judges to handle honor killings of women, rendering the act simply a crime of murder. It also recognized war crimes and other crimes against humanity, including torture, as well as criminalizing sexual violence against children.
    • An anti-harassment regulation and anti-harassment law were enacted.
    • Amendment to some provisions of the Civil Servants Law to increase number of women
    • Gender integration policy launched by Civil Service Commission
    • Modification of Electoral Law to increase gender equality
    • The Passport Law removes obstacles for girls and women in obtaining passports  
    • Inheritance deprivation has been criminalized in article 33 of EVAW Law
    • EVAW Law has set penalties for underage marriages. It has also been incorporated in the draft Family Law
    • Article 40 of the constitution recognizes the right of all citizens, including women and men, to own property. It is now required that new property documents must include name of husband and wife
    • New Labor Law affords women 50 days family leave, on top of 90 days paid maternity leave, and Article 8 stipulates the equal right to work
  • In 2018, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs launched the Women’s Inheritance Policy which aims to address issues like women’s poverty reduction, empowering family income and to financially support vulnerable women especially poor and widows. The policy is pending for approval of the cabinet, as of September 2018.
  • In 2016, President Ghani and First Lady Rula Ghani inaugurated the country’s first Trust Fund for Victims of Violence against Women, by making the first donations to the fund in a ceremony at the Presidential Palace. The Fund supports women who have suffered from violence.

– Advancing women in government and business

 PROGRESS: – Achieved.
In government:
  • There are more women in senior government positions than at any other time in Afghan history: 4 Ministers, 11 Deputy Ministers, 5 Ambassadors, 2 female deputies on the High Peace Council and women comprising about 22% of provincial peace councils; 28% of the Lower House of Parliament are women, 26% of the Upper House of Parliament are women; 34% of provincial council representatives are women; 48% of community development councils throughout the country are comprised of women; 1 female governor; 3 female mayors; 122 women work in the President’s Office; 20% of the Supreme Court staff are women, a total of 553 women, including 265 female judges. Afghanistan is one of only countries in the region with a quota for women in parliament (28 percent), second highest in Asia.
  • The Gender and Women’s Affairs Committee of the Cabinet was established and serves as a platform to support the political leadership of the government with regards to gender development and adoption of relevant laws and policies. The committee has approved a National Strategy to Prevent Violence against Women, the strategy for women’s economic rights and occupational safety, and established the structure and ToR for the planned gender groups in various public institutions.
  • The Civil Service Commission launched its gender integration policy in early 2018, which allots 5 extra points to female candidates among other measures taken, and has ramped up efforts to achieve its goal of increasing the number of women in the civil service from 22% to 30% by 2020.
  • The President introduced the first Afghan woman as Supreme Court judge, after engaging the Ulema to release a Fatwa condoning the nomination. The nomination however did not pass the vote in the Parliament. In July 2018, President Ghani re-introduced the same candidate, Anisa Rasouli, as Supreme Court judge to the Parliament.
  • Ministries are issuing and implementing ministry-specific gender and workplace policies; for example, the Ministry of Finance increased hiring quotas for women and partnered with USAID and the American University of Afghanistan to provide higher education scholarships to female middle management.
  • The government has launched its action plan, and two annual reports so far, for UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security, which is now in implementation over a 5-year period. Staff and financial resources have been assigned.
  • The Ministry of Interior is over halfway towards its goal of recruiting 5,000 female police officers by 2020 to increase security personnel to serve women across the country. As of March 2018, 3,169 women were in the Afghan police at MOI (after 271 female border guard and ANCOP forcers were transferred to Ministry of Defense as part of reforms measures). 900 women completed basic training in Turkey, and 866 are currently receiving trainings in Turkey and Afghanistan. 30 women are working in positions of leadership at Ministry of Interior.
  • The Ministry of Defense is aiming to elevate the total number of women in uniform to 19,500 by the year 2024, thus constituting 10% of the ANDSF. There are currently about 2000 women in the ANA.
  • There are 11 training centers for women in the security forces around the country. In April 2018, General John Nicholson spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony of a new Women’s Police Township, which will be built on the grounds of the Ministry of Interior and provide housing, educational and daycare facilities and fitness facilities to women police officers and their families.
  • The Independent Election Commission reports that an estimated 1,878 women in 34 provinces have been employed at voter registration centers to ensure women have access to voter registration. Since voter registration commenced on April 14 and ended in July 2018, nearly 9 million Afghans registered to vote, with about 34% women.
  • In business:
  • The National Procurement Authority instituted a 5% preferential treatment to women-owned businesses. The government’s business simplification reforms have also positively impacted women’s business.
  • Part of the government’s WEEP NPP includes organizing women’s markets regularly in every province. The WEEP NPP launched a ‘Made by Afghan Women’ brand on May 14 2018, which included participation by the Afghan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and the Office of the First Lady.
  • The President’s Office and First Lady’s office facilitated the established of the country’s first Afghan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which networks 850 women business owners across the country.