AFGHANISTAN: It’s a Man’s Job, or Is It?

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THURSDAY DECEMBER 2ND 2010: Dasht-e-Barchi is a poor community located in the west of Kabul city. Although a two-lane road was recently constructed, the streets are almost too narrow for a car to pass. The dilapidated houses on either side of the new road suggest that no one could afford to own a car here. At one house, a small gate opens onto a yard revealing a washed-out white sign.

Hazara women not strangers to tools of the trade.
Hazara women not strangers to tools of the trade.

Inside the house, a group of women are so immersed in their carpentry they hardly notice the incoming visitors. The only man is their trainer, trying industriously to keep pace with them. Shahla, 19, has learned carpentry skills from Fatima Akbari an established business owner. Shahla lives with her mother, her only remaining family member and although she has finished high school, it is not guaranteed that she will have a the chance to study at university. After a conversation with a local ASGP Capacity Development Facilitator, Shahla learned about the Ambassador’s Small Grants Program for Gender Equality and decided to apply for a grant to establish the Afghan Women’s Initiative organization to teach women a vocation. Shahla’s grant was approved and she brought 30 vulnerable women together to learn carpentry skills. Most of the older women trainees are either widows or have disabled husbands and urgently need a trade to support their families. Some of them walk for nearly an hour to get to Shahla’s center.

The ASGP team helped Shahla prepare the application. The grant award helped her to buy tools and equipment for the project. Mrs. Akbari helped Shahla with the space for the carpentry and literacy training including access to using her office. At the moment, 30 women receive literacy and carpentry training in morning and afternoon shifts. Soon, the women here will be able to supply the local market with cabinets, chairs, tables, and desks.


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