The USAID Promote: Women in Government project brought 821 women closer to their dream of public service. The project’s pilot SMS messaging system, implemented in partnership with Roshan telecommunications company, notified prospective interns of their successful application for the Women in Government internship program and next steps.
In July, the project sent SMS messages invited 821 applicants to a written test and subsequent interviews for those who scored well. Kabul applicants received an English text message informing them of the date, time, and venue of their writing test. This system allows applicants to receive a text message on even the simplest non-smart cell phone. As a result, 96 percent of applicants successfully received text messages; 787 of the applicants confirmed receipt of the text. A prospective intern, stated, “This is a great system. We get information much more quickly than with phone calls”. Following the success of the English notification, text messages in Dari and Pashto were sent to candidates selected for panel interviews. Over 90 percent of candidates selected for interviews praised the efficiency of the new system.
The SMS messaging system accelerates the project’s ability to recruit and place highly qualified female university and high school graduates in ministry and provincial government offices. Through the internship program, the USAID Promote: Women in Government project offers practical, on-the-job learning and skills, connects women with career mentors, and provides support for job placement, with the ultimate goal of increasing women’s participation in the Afghan government. The project has placed interns in ministries such as the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information and Culture, and Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, which have led to full-time employment.
The project Recruitment and Placement Advisor for the internship program said, “Before the use of text messaging, it took six people eight hours to notify participants through phone calls. Now it happens in minutes.” With this important tool, not only is the recruitment process streamlined, the project is in an ideal position to expand its reach to rural areas, where women are less likely to have access to internet or consistent phone service.