Afghanistan is a country where the population largely consists of people under 24 years old, and about 400,000 people are entering the workforce every year. It is hard enough finding a job as a young college graduate, but it’s even more difficult for the women in Afghanistan. Women in Afghanistan who seek education or employment still face backlash from a patriarchal society.
Although 64 percent of Afghans believe women should be allowed to work, many men still feel that women should be forbidden from pursuing an education. Girls who attempt to pursue education face great danger. Schools for girls have been burned down, teachers have been threatened and killed, and girls have been injured walking to and from school. The women who manage to complete their education often have forces working against them, preventing them from getting a job.
In December 2015, U.N. Women developed an internship program to help college-educated women acquire skills and develop a work ethic to better prepare them for the working world in Afghanistan. As of now, 48 women have completed the U.N. Women’s internship program in Afghanistan. The six-month program consists of two months spent training the women in different professional skills, and four months spent interning with an organization in the woman’s chosen field. The women receive a stipend from U.N. Women for the duration of their internship period.
The internship program has helped participants make vital social and professional connections with different programs around the world, some of which have offered these women jobs after completing their internships. The U.N. Women internship opportunity is helping women in Afghanistan look more suitable and appealing to job recruiters, giving them a competitive edge against young men looking for jobs.
As drastic and detrimental as things are for women in Afghanistan, the country is making progress for women and girls in education, political participation and economic roles. The National Unity Government is committed to the empowerment of women, and recognizes that equal opportunity for women is necessary for stabilizing Afghanistan and developing the country in a sustainable way.
There are more women in power than ever before. For example, 27.7 percent of parliament consists of women and three serve as ambassadors as well as the leaders of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and four ministries. Also, Afghanistan has in place a National Action Plan to implement a resolution for the peace and security of women. These measures of progress show that there have been efforts in promoting and upholding a peaceful society with equal opportunity for women.
Women in Afghanistan continue to be disproportionately affected by poverty, discrimination and exploitation. There is still a substantial amount of resistance and discrimination in the workforce, but Afghanistan is making progress. With the help from U.N. Women, the working and educated women in Afghanistan can be progressive role models and leaders to all other women and girls.
Although Afghanistan has established ambitious goals, these actions are necessary to ensure that progress is not reversed and to preserve the great gains the country has made.
– Kayla Mehl