a young girl poses woith her son outside her home in Bamiyan.Due to ongoing social and cultural discrimination, an Afghan women’s right to safe and sustainable work is almost non-existent, especially for those who with backgrounds of violence and exploitation. Hagar Afghanistan believes that women and girls realizing their right to work is not only linked to their long-term reintegration, but in fact, facilitates it. Hagar Afghanistan’s Empowering Women and girls toward Economic Participation (EWEP) programme, seeks to bridge the gap for women and girl survivors to enter the formal work place with confidence, sound employability skills and positive attitudes, by providing a pre-employment skills preparation course, personal development workshops, as well as on-the-job training and job placements in supportive employment environments. Together, these empowering services are helping to provide women survivors with dignity, self-sustainability and choices for their future.

The pronounced social and cultural obstacles women face in accessing education, job skills development and vocational training has culminated in a generation of women with extremely high rates of unemployment. Those who do break through the barriers, and access skills training and/or work, then face additional hurdles, such as demanding household responsibilities and insecure transport and work environments. Recent studies have also shown that women who do find work, commonly lose their job due to insufficient attention given to job placements in low-demand sectors. Finally, the stakes are even higher for those women, who’ve been exploited and are without family networks, as it means they are without choice and simply cannot provide for themselves and their children.

EWEP’s approach to recovery is holistic and based on empowerment that is both multi-dimensional and interlinked. This means that Hagar is committed to seeing clients experience power within: enabling them to articulate their own aspirations; power to: enabling them to develop necessary skills and access necessary resources to achieve their aspirations; power with: enabling them to examine and articulate their collective interest, to organize to achieve them and to link with other organizations for change; and power over: changing the underlying inequalities in power and resources which constrain their aspirations and their ability to achieve them.

Because the overwhelming majority of EWEP clients are illiterate, have limited experiences interacting in the social sector, come from backgrounds of extreme violence or abuse and have built dependence on the shelter they have been confined to, most have been denied an opportunity to plan for a future. Through careful needs assessment, career counseling, and partnership building, EWEP staff are beginning to creatively provide empowering solutions to help our clients build self-confidence, self-determination and open up space for them to start making strategic life choices.