Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Multifaceted aid program bringing food and literacy training to Afghan women

A joint UNICEF-World Food Program (WFP) project in Kandahar, Afghanistan is helping to serve families’ food needs while also promoting women’s education, The Canadian Press reported Sunday.

During the reign of the Taliban, opportunities for women were nonexistent, as they were forbidden from attending schools or taking classes. However, today, a little over six years after the fall of the radical group, programs that promote women’s literacy are becoming more widespread.

Afghan women with families must generate household income, but many either do not have time to attend school or are not permitted by their husbands to do so. The UNICEF-WFP program creates an incentive to convince both men and women that families can remain financially stable while members attend class. Participating women attend literacy classes, and in return are given “a 50 kilogram bag of wheat, 1 kilogram bag of salt, 8 kilogram bag of beans and 3.7 kilogram container of oil to take home every two months,” the article notes, adding that “for many women, the joint UNICEF-World Food Program (WFP) literacy initiative presents the perfect bargaining tool.”

Enrollment in the program has skyrocketed from 400 students in 2005 to over 6,000 students currently.

“Education is power,” said Sayeda Achekzai, a nurse and mother of six whose been participating in the program as a teacher for the last three years. “Before these women were blind. They couldn’t read a thing and now they understand where they’re going.”

For the full article, click here.


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