Every day, all over the world, USAID brings peace to those who endure violence, health to those who struggle with sickness, and prosperity to those who live in poverty. It is these individuals — these uncounted thousands of lives — that are the true measure of USAID’s successes and the true face of USAID's programs.
USAID’s implementing partner, Central Asia Development Group, is quick to talk about her family. “I have been very fortunate,” she states. “My family promoted my education. I have one older sister, who is now a lawyer, and a second who studies political science. I have been encouraged to pursue long-term studies in law.”
There are more than two million widows in Afghanistan as a result of two decades of conflict and civil war. In Kabul alone, there an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 widows, many of whom are uneducated, illiterate, and lack basic job skills. Many Afghan widows are left to support themselves and their families with little hope and few prospects.
USAID has placed women’s empowerment in Afghanistan as a priority, focusing on improved access to work, education, leadership roles, and legal recourse. At the same time, projects tailored expressly toward these goals have met sharp resistance in traditional communities across the country. In some cases, this resistance has stymied projects before their beneficial impact could be felt. These gaps have resulted in a large opportunity cost, not only for women, but for whole households in communities across Afghanistan.
Years of civil war in Afghanistan and the lack of educational opportunities created a generation of women who are not aware of their basic rights and are thus unable to defend them. USAID Community Based Stabilization Grants Project (CBSG) organized conflict mitigation trainings to address this issue and connect them with their government representatives.
In early 2010, Provincial Governor Habiba Sarabi told former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry that there were no female journalists in Bamyan. A couple of months later, USAID awarded a grant for a five-month training project. The project trained 10 young women on technical aspects of radio broadcasting such as announcing, interviewing, reporting, and editing, and helped launch a women’s media center and Radio Paywand, a radio station which focuses on women’s issues.
“Before working as an intern with the Ministry I was a part-time IT teacher in a private school. I taught the same subject every day; there was no opportunity to learn about a career with the public sector. Through my internship, I have many opportunities to learn new things and build my career. I feel happy and prefer to work with the Ministry rather than anywhere else.”
Masoma had become seriously ill from hypertension. A visit to the hospital offered no relief. After returning home, the expectant mother suffered convulsions and fell unconscious. The family rushed Masoma back to the hospital, where her premature baby was delivered by caesarean section and the young mother survived. The experience left a lasting impression on Sadeqa and set her on a new path to learn more about midwifery and helping mothers in Afghanistan.
Abdul Sattar considers himself land-rich but cash-poor. The Kandahar farmer owns nearly 150 acres of farmland in an area where most farmers have only one or two acres. But because of the prohibitive costs of planting and harvesting, two-thirds of his land has lain dormant for years.
Last updated: July 27, 2015