AHRRAO Recent Implemented Project

AHRRAO Recent Implemented Project:

Afghan Human Rights Research and Advocacy Organization has successfully implemented Initiative to Improve Women’s Social and Political Role (IWPR) project in northern Afghanistan. The project is funded by German Foreign Ministry. It is started on 1st July 2017 and ended on 30 June 2018.
IWPR project implemented in Balkh, Jawzjan and Samangan provinces. Sixty young women who were graduated from Sharia law, law and political science, public administration and Journalism have been benefited as main project beneficiaries.
The project has been started using its first summer school in Aug 2017. Two international experts were invited as trainers to work with project beneficiaries in order to improve their knowledge on law, politics and journalism fields. Within this summer school, project beneficiaries developed a one year project roadmap in order to achieve specific objectives during the course of the project. According to the project work-plan developed in the first summer school, project beneficiaries divided in three TaskForce Teams aiming to concentrate on different women rights fields and actively conduct researches and advocacies for women rights. Meanwhile, project beneficiaries were regularly participating capacity building workshops, competitions, scientific conferences and as well as joining Radio and TV dialogues in order to improve their capacity in different fields of research and advocacy for women rights.

The following are specific and overall outcome of IWPR project:

project.
Project specific outcomes:
Project specific objective required strengthening of 60 young women aiming to enable them to play active role in the fields of politics, journalism and lawyering to take their part in socio-political development of north Afghanistan. Expected outcome for this objective anticipated that, 50% of this group should be employed in different governmental and nongovernmental organizations at the end of project period. However, by the end of project, 65% (39 project beneficiaries) of the project target group have been employed and another 18% (11 project beneficiaries) have submitted their applications to the governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Some of them already participated in employment exam in all project target provinces which we are expecting that all of them should be employed because, they have the needed capacity to take over the positions they have applied for in all institutions.
The following table shows the fields and related organizations in which the project target beneficiaries have been employed:  

Organization/field of work

Politic

Journalism

Administration

Lawyering

Social field

No. of interns work in gov. org

5

0

3

2

6

No. of interns work in non-gov. Org

0

3

4

7

9

In order to prove noted outcome of IWPR project, AHRRAO has collected contracts of the employed project beneficiaries which can be used as verification source of related project indicator.
It is also notable that, the remaining 10 project beneficiaries who are not employed yet are actively involved in civil and social activities. IWPR project beneficiaries developed a network of women rights young activists. The members of network are regularly in contact with each other and support unemployment members while there is needed. Also, using this network, different governmental and non-governmental organizations are regular inviting IWPR project beneficiaries to their different programs at the local and provincial level and use their capacities, knowledge and understanding in order to encourage other women in the local communities for better and active participation. Meanwhile, the project beneficiaries strongly active within their own communities and encouraging young women who have the minimum capacity to participate in their communities social and political development. As a result, participation of women in social and political activities are appreciated by men, and women has better opportunity for active participation. (Please see success stories section for examples.)

Project overall objective/impact:
IWPR project overall objective required a quantitative (30%) and qualitative (50%) increase of participation, visible and affective role of women in political process and social development of north Afghanistan. However, AHRRAO didn’t conduct any systematic impact assessment for this project and sources of verification that are suggested in the project Log-Frame will only be available at the end of the year, AHRRAO has done a general evaluation in order to record project results within the project target provinces. This evaluation has been conducted only through phone or face to face discussions with related stakeholders to understand the number of women employed in different governmental and non-governmental institutions and as well as supports provided by different stakeholders including political parties for women. Since, national and international NGOs are enjoying use of Gender policy, there was no focus on these organizations.
At the quantitative level, AHRRAO has recorded an acceptable increase in number of women employed in key positions of governmental institutions within the project target provinces. This positive changes only occurred after release of IWPR research paper on Afghanistan government commitment to Brussels conference with regard to women participation in civil servant organizations. In order to settle the percentage of project success in quantitative level of project objective, AHRRAO needed to have credible quantitative data of past year from IARCSC that, such record particularly regarding women employment did not exist at the provincial level. Therefore, the AHRRAO team concentrated on women employment and history of the position where women are employed recently in order to understand the level of employment in each organization. Thus, AHRRAO records show an overall 50-60% of increase in women employment in the following key governmental positions of the following target provinces:

However, the AHRRAO provincial coordinators were not able to collect systematic information from IARCSC but, a rough calculation confirms employment of 46 women who are mostly employed in high ranking positions of governmental organizations in all three target provinces which has no example in the past. AHRRAO would like to admit that employment in the provincial department of Education, Telecommunication and security departments are not included to this report. Because, there are high number of women employed as teachers in the Education departments, Telecommunication department is mostly privatized and collecting information from security departments need special procedure. 
For the following reasons AHRRAO team claims that noted positive changes are direct result of IWPR project:
All mentioned employments are happened after release of IWPR research report and advocacies at the regional and provincial level with serious reflections through media at the national level on women employment in civil servant organizations according to Afghanistan commitment in Brussels’ conference.
Before IWPR project research and advocacies, these positions were occupied by men or left empty such as gender position of governor offices in Jawzjan and Samangan. IWPR project dialogues and advocacies highlighted importance of women participation, Afghanistan commitment to the international community and continuously focused on effective role of women during its dialogues and conferences which resulted to serious attention of related institutions for women employment at the provincial level.
Considering the centralized governance system in Afghanistan and as well as serious gaps between national and provincial level institutions on reporting and communications, the national level IARCSC had/has very limited information about level of women participation in the provincial level. Thus, IWPR project functioned as bridge between provincial and national level institutions in its target provinces and using its research report provided the ground for better understanding of the situation for national level institutions and in particular IARCSC which is resulted to immediate employment of high number of women or at least accelerated the employment process.

In addition to the large-scale employment of women in the project target provinces which is the quantitative outcome of IWPR project, there are also visible and strong impact of project has been recorded on local governance and women’s social, political and even economic rights which is confirming strong qualitative outcome of the project.

Project Impact on local governance:
Women employment in different governmental organizations are the initial outcome of the project. According to IWPR project interns’ report, they have been involved in at least 85 legal cases in different judiciary departments. Most of these cases are successfully processed by participation of IWPR interns during the six months of their internship. The most important elements of project interns’ success are:
Project interns’ capacity and knowledge;
Project interns’ capacity for networking and particularly establishing contacts with other women in different governmental organizations;
And presence capacitated women in different governmental organization;
Above noted elements were key to improve transparency in key governmental organizations such as prosecution departments, women affair departments, Law departments and even courts.
As an example; project interns who were working in judiciary field started initiative with different judiciary departments and convinced them to hold on 30 minutes of discussions with prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges after every court procedure (trial) they are participating and discuss on decisions made by court. The aim of the discussion was, to compare the court’s decision and other judiciary procedures ended to court’s decision with national laws and international human rights standards.
This 30 minutes of discussion after court’s procedure by IWPR interns seriously contributed to improvements in police, prosecution department and court performance. Because, the IWPR project interns had the capacity to identify the gaps and challenges in judiciary process particularly with relation to women rights. This improvement is mainly visible in investigation of women rights violation cases.
 
Project impact on women’s social rights:
Yet, it is very difficult to measure IWPR project’s long term impact on women rights. But, the project has had an in-depth immediate impact on women rights situation in the project target provinces. The project impact is measured in two levels of, a) impact on governmental institutions/good governance with direct outcome on the society and b) direct impact on the local communities.


Moreover, IWPR project beneficiaries have become unique role models within their communities. They are not only changing their own families’ behaviors with regard to the female members of the family but, also positively affecting their communities as well. For example; by the end of Aug 2018 at least 12 women rights violation cases are resolved by interfering or advises of IWPR project interns mainly in Jawzjan and Samangan provinces. In Hazrat Sultan district of Samangan province, one of the project interns advocated for prevention of sexual harassment of girls in the high school of their community. The school master was an influential cleric who was accused for the girls’ sexual harassment but, being supported by district governor and no one could stand against him. This advocacy not only changed Hazrat Sultan girls high school administration but, also replaced men school masters of three other girls’ high schools with women school masters in this province. (Please see success stories section for details)

Project impact on women’s political rights:
Considering the fact that political parties are very weak in Afghanistan and so called political parties were all armed and involved in civil war, there were and still are very limited opportunities for women to join these parties. Because; with a very few exceptions, all parties are heritage of the Jihad era against Soviet Union and still carry their extremist interpretation of Islam with regard to women, they are mostly armed and culture of women respect and participation within these parties doesn’t exist. Hence, we believe that IWPR project had very limited impact on these parties. Therefore, we used women participation factor in the election as candidates and also as voters within the target provinces and as well as monitored political parties in order to understand which parties are providing better support for women in the parliamentary and district council election. The result of our monitoring shows that political parties which were regularly participating in the project dialogues and conferences are more active in supporting women in the election. Among all parties, Taraqi Mardom Afghanistan party had a women candidate in the election and also Insejam Melli party which was also one of the project beneficiaries, supported a woman candidate during the parliamentary election in Balkh province. However, Junbish party in Jawzjan had a women candidate but, its candidate was daughter of founder of the party Gen. Adbul Rashid Dostem and we do not assume that this is result of IWPR project in Jawzjan despite the fact that Junbish party was also one of the project beneficiaries which was participating in dialogues and conferences.
In addition, about 20% increase observed in number of parliamentary candidates in the project target provinces and an incredible number of women have candidate themselves in the district council election within the project target provinces.
The IWPR project success in political field is highlighted while one of the project interns was decisive to candidate herself in Hazrat Sultan district council in Samangan province. While her request has been rejected by Independent Election Commission because, she was not completing the required age (25 years) according to the law but, she didn’t stop here and encouraged her older sister to candidate herself in the coming district council election. Hazrat sultan is a conservative district with many Madrasas and heavy presence of Taliban in its remote areas. (Please see success stories section for details).

Project impact on women’s economic rights:
It is approximately impossible to support women in social and political fields with no attention on women economic empowerment in a society such as Afghanistan where women are highly dependent to men in terms of economy. Therefore, the project had an eye on women economic rights as well. For this reason, beside capacity building programs and dialogues, a number of studies conducted by project interns in order to first understand the situation of women economic rights within the target provinces and following on, advocate for women economic empowerment in order to support sustainable women rights improvement in north Afghanistan.
Immediate outcome of the studies and advocacies on women economic rights were incredible particularly in Samangan province. Conducted studies were concentrating on 1) market for women handicraft productions in Samagan province, 2) the women rights to receive heritage and 3) women equal access to working opportunities. We believe that giving a clear understanding and demand for women rights of heritage and women rights to equal access to working opportunity will make related stake holders to act according to the law and provide better opportunities within the local communities for women to practice their rights but, IWPR project research and advocacies had an immediate impact on the market of women handicraft production in Samangan province. However, a market was already built for women handicrafts in Aybak city but, this market was not being used by women because no one knew about the market location, production and also there were very few shops used by producers because the market was lacking facilities.

Following IWPR interns’ advocacies which had a large-scale media coverage of the market and its situation, also local media interviewed related stakeholders and asked for their plans for activation of the market, as a result; Afghan Aid organization and AKF-A who were involved in building this market revisited the market to coordinate with related governmental organization to improve the market situation. GIZ built sun visors for shops and facilities of the market improved by AKF and Afghan Aid. Women producers were supported by noted organization for better marketing and currently the market is active and about 55 producers are using the market and selling their products.


POSTED 2018-10-24

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