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Transforming Lives

The head of the Ministry’s Gender Department discusses the need for more gender aware programs and policy

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Urban Development is unable to pursue gender-sensitive procedures, notably in housing distribution. This is partly because there are very few women in key positions at the Ministry. The Afghan government is acutely aware of the gender gap. It wants 30 per cent of all employees to be women by 2014. Women currently account for just 18 per cent.

Nafas Gul Bakhtanai and the trainees

When times are tough, Nafas Gul Bakhtanai shows exceptional toughness. Forced to flee Afghanistan on account of the Taliban, she worked in a shoe factory in Pakistan. Returning to Jalalabad 12 years later, she refused to be disheartened by the fact that jobs were scarce and her husband could not support their family of nine. Instead, Nafas scraped the money together to buy 14 kilos of wheat. She turned it into farina, selling the cereal to put food on the table.

Kamila Sidiqi started her career as a seamstress

All too often, Kamila Sidiqi is the only woman at business meetings and she is very aware that her presence makes some of the men uncomfortable. To Kamila, this is proof that her current venture is crucial.

Prospective employers discuss their requirements with job seekers over cups of tea

When Kandahar held a jobs fair, it was a first for Afghanistan’s second largest city. Eight private firms attended and it drew 33 job seekers, nine of them women. Till then, says Haji Nazir Ahmed who works in a local business, the city’s employment practices relied on knowing someone’s antecedents rather than their abilities.

A livestock extension class in progress in Balkh province

Najiba’s family did not fully appreciate its benefits when they reluctantly allowed her to participate in livestock extension training. The 19-year-old helped her father raise karakul, the sheep whose wool is used to make hats and coats. But Afghan karakul did not usually command high prices internationally. And Najiba and her father struggled to support their family of nine.

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Last updated: January 16, 2015

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