MICRO-FINANCE PROGRAM

Our Micro-finance program provides loans to help women start their own businesses.

Bakery                                       Blanket-maker                      Carpet-weaving                      Tailoring

        

Gardening                                Milk & Yogurt                          Poultry                                      Pickle-making

        


Read stories of how our Micro-Finance Program is helping women and their families

Why Micro-Finance?

Traditionally, Afghan women have been dependent on their male family members, but the disintegration of families and communities over the past two decades has resulted in extreme poverty and isolation for many thousands of women.  War, drought, and illness have left many women widowed - struggling to provide for their families without adequate education or training.  Combined with the repressive restrictions on women in society, many widows, forced to assume the responsibility of heads of households, have been unable to undertake even the most basic tasks such as going to the market or selling their goods.  Religious restrictions have confined many women to their homes and, without husbands or male relatives, they are often left to starve or beg on the streets.  The risk of rape, violence, abduction and forced marriage is still extremely high for women, and continues to deny them their fundamental human rights. Women are struggling to realize their rights and rebuild their lives in an extremely insecure environment and under the constant threat of violence. 

Afghan women have an important role to play in the struggle to rebuild peace and security in their communities.  However, in order to fulfill their potential they must be empowered with the resources that will enable them to gain an education and skills training, and the opportunity to earn a living.  Not only must these programs be made available to women, but also efforts must be made to change community perception within Afghanistan of the important role women can play in the country’s reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Building the capacity of women’s community organizations is integral to ensuring that women have more control over their lives and are involved in every stage of the development process.  Working with women to advance their roles as decision makers, with a significant opportunity to shape development programs, is an important step in the realization of Afghan women’s human rights and basic human needs.  Additionally, providing women with the skills and resources to gain control over income and earning is crucial to rebuilding the social and economic fabric of Afghanistan.

Women in Afghanistan have the potential to be a key resource for peace building, reconstruction, and the social and economic rehabilitation of a country destroyed by years of conflict and natural disaster.  However, no real progress can be made without gender equality and the involvement of women in participatory social and economic development.  Poverty reduction and women’s empowerment are integral to Afghanistan’s future security, and to the country’s social and economic revitalization. 

Afghan women have identified education, skills training, income generation, health and security as key priorities for their personal development.  It is crucial to provide women with the opportunities to become actively engaged in supporting their families, their communities and their country.  Developing a path to self-reliance, self-realization and respect for women is vital if Afghanistan is to end the deprivation and chaos caused by conflict and war.  In a nation of hundreds of thousands of widows, many women are ill equipped to cope financially without an education, skills training or the possibility of employment.  Opportunities for women to learn new skills, receive an education and earn a living are necessary to enable women to care for themselves and their children. 

As Afghan women take steps to rebuild their lives and the social and economic fabric of their society, they will face many challenges stemming from decades of gender-based discrimination.  The Afghan Women’s Community Support Program involves equity strategies designed to provide women with the resources and opportunities they need to become effective agents of change by gaining skills, building self-confidence, developing self-reliance, solving problems and working within supportive communities to develop their own small businesses.  The project will provide women with a voice to articulate their needs and interests, explore their vision for society and participate in the decisions that affect their lives.

Sustainable development will not be achieved unless gender inequality can be eradicated.  The Afghan Women’s Community Support Program will provide basic education in literacy, math, health, parenting, conflict resolution, peace building, environment, community leadership and rehabilitation, human rights, women’s rights, national unity and reconciliation, participatory decision-making, as well as childcare, skills training and loan project under the Micro-Finance program.  The project will support women as they establish their own income generation activities and provide them with the means and opportunities to begin to break the cycle of poverty.  Through these activities, the project will begin to address the historical and social disadvantages that Afghan women face daily.

The Afghan Women’s Community Support Program builds on many long-standing initiatives currently being implemented by the AWC that educate, train and assist women to become economically self-reliant.  Providing women with basic education and tangible income-generating skills will have a lasting impact on the lives of the project beneficiaries and their families.  Through community leadership training, women will be more likely to participate in community development, sharing the voice of women and influencing the development of Afghanistan.  Demographic studies undertaken throughout the world have established that women who are educated are more likely to educate their children, helping to break the cycle of poverty.  The Program has the potential to affect sustainable change in the lives of women and children for generations of Afghans.

Studies have shown that micro-finance is an effective mechanism to help civilians affected by conflict rebuild their livelihoods.  Micro-finance is an appropriate intervention at an early stage in the reconstruction process as it can reduce medium-term vulnerability and dependence, and enable households to become self-sustaining. 

Micro-finance models enable participants to work towards sustainable improvement to their livelihoods, and additionally to work towards the sustainability of the program and the organization itself.

Revenues generated will be used to cover the costs of borrowed money, any loan losses, and a portion of the operating expenses, eventually enabling more women to participate in the program.  As the project progresses, it will work towards operational efficiency and self-sustainability.  This is normally a multi-year process and it is one that the AWC and WCC are committed to and will work towards.   

In addition, the project will also focus on building the capacity of the AWC.  Increased local capacity of the AWC will have a long-term impact on women’s rights and women’s empowerment in Afghanistan, as they are a clearly identified resource and provide support to thousands of the most marginalized Afghan women and children.  Finally, local communities and Afghan women will be involved in all stages of project planning and implementation.  Their ownership and engagement in the project will increase their interest in seeing the project sustained and implemented over the long term.

The Afghan Women’s Community Support Program will lead to a modest but important decrease in the number of poor women and families in the capital Kabul and many other Provinces of Afghanistan and reduce the extent of their current deprivation.  The project  address many of the root causes of poverty and associated indices including illiteracy lack of education and training, lack of access to and control over resources and credit, and inequalities between men and women.  The project promote women’s capacity to improve their socio-economic status by providing them with tangible opportunities to better their education, care for themselves and their families, and secure meaningful employment.

The Afghan Women’s Community Support Program focuses on the social, economic and environmental conditions of the poor, their access to resources and their decision-making power, benefiting the entire community.  The program also grow the capacity of the AWC to concentrate on the root causes of poverty and contribute to poverty reduction in Afghanistan on a broader scale by enabling them to extend their reach and increase the number of women involved in their projects.


 

Who We Are

Fatana Gailani, Founder, Afghanistan Women Council

Ms. Fatana Said Gailani, who comes from an influential family of Kabul, has become one of the most prominent advocates of Afghan women's rights. After she sought refuge in Pakistan in late 1978 due to her opposition to the Communist regime of Noor Mohammad Tarraki, she began her humanitarian work in 1980 by providing medical assistance for Afghan refugees. Mrs. Gailani founded the Afghanistan Women Council (AWC) in 1986 and started its activities for human rights, women's rights, children's rights and peace building in 1993. The main objective of the organization is to enlighten women, improve their living conditions, and strengthen their socio-economic status in society by their multi-lateral involvement in developmental activities.

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What We Do

AWC runs the Ariana School, the Mother and Child Health Clinic in Peshawar, which provides education and medical care to refugee families, and the Nazo AnaClinic, a 20-bed hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, that kept its doors open throughout all five years of the Taliban regime. AWC also manages humanitarian relief efforts for newly-arrived refugees and publishes the monthly journal, Zan-e-Afghan (Aghan Women) to mobilize women to bring peace and stability to the country. AWC creates and administers innovative projects such as trade training, literacy, health kit disbursement, and TBA training. AWC also strives to provide a voice for women through political representation in the new government.

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Learn more about our Micro-Finance Program and read amazing stories of transformation from women who have received a loan.

 

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