Eleven graduates from the USAID Promote Women’s Leadership Development’s (WLD) Jawana program had cause to celebrate this week after being honored at an awards ceremony commemorating International Women’s Day.
The event, hosted March 9 by the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA), marked a significant milestone in the timeline of the one-year-old project, which graduated its first cohort of participants in January.
“I am very happy about this certificate,” said Fatima Asghar*, 28. “After five months of effort, it felt good to be appreciated.” Fatima is one of six Jawana (‘sapling’ in Dari and Pashto) graduates who implemented their final project that focused on training impoverished women about how to raise poultry for supplemental income.
Not only did they provide beneficiaries with chicks, but also showed them how to care for and raise them to adulthood. The aim was to provide an alternative livelihood for women who would otherwise be engaged in hard physical labor such as baking bread or breaking stones.
Two other Jawana projects were also recognized by AISA. One capitalized on a growing demand for mushrooms by teaching women how to cultivate mushrooms in the safety of their own homes. The other focused on selling the handiwork of skilled female artisans who—for family or other reasons—had been unable to bring their products to market. All three projects involved extensive market research, the development of a business plan—and an absolute commitment to assisting other women in need.
“This (Jawana) leadership course improved my courage and taught me how to be more self-reliant,” said 22-year-old Adila Hashimi*. “It has taught me how to be a good leader; how to manage the society we live in and how to deal with its problems and challenges.”
Women’s Leadership and Development is one of four programs under the five-year Promote umbrella. Promote aims to build on the gains Afghan women have made over the last decade by providing 18,000 educated women between18 and 30 from across the country with leadership skills to advance into decision-making positions in the political, economic and social sectors of Afghan society.
*Names changed for security reasons.