KABUL (Pajhwok): The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Japan have launched a two-year project that aimed to strengthen women’s economic activity in the private sector in seven provinces of Afghanistan, according to a statement on Thursday.
The project is funded by the Government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and it will support the empowerment of Afghan women in both rural and urban areas.
It will enable women entrepreneurs to have better access to finance, improved entrepreneurship and business management skills, and greater access to markets. The overall aim is to enhance women’s economic agency and their ability to contribute to their families and to the economic recovery of their communities.
At the signing ceremony for the official exchange of notes, Ambassador of Japan to Afghanistan Takashi Okada, highlighted how this project fits well with JICA’s long-standing priorities, saying, “Japan has been supporting women’s economic empowerment in Afghanistan for many years. We believe that this project will build on our previous support and create more opportunities for women to participate in and benefit from the economic recovery.”
He further added “In order to create enabling environment for women’s economic activities, the project will also build and rehabilitate community infrastructures, such as rural roads, bridges, community markets, community storages, irrigation canals and other priority facilities, which have been identified through consultation with the beneficiary communities. Construction works will create employment opportunities for the local people. And those infrastructures will benefit all the people in the communities.”
“We express our gratitude for the continued partnership with the Government of Japan; their support has been extremely valuable in helping us to address some of the multiple socio-economic and cultural challenges that Afghan women face,” said UNDP Afghanistan Resident Representative, Stephen Rodriques. “The UN in Afghanistan is committed to helping to protect the rights and wellbeing of women and to ensure that they are economically empowered and have agency in the society,” he added.
“Women in Afghanistan have been experiencing major backslides in their rights to education and work. The restrictions on women’s participation in the workforce and the overall economy aggravate the humanitarian situation, strain the economy, and increase vulnerabilities across the board.”
The Government of Japan commits approximately $10 million to this new project which will support a total of 1,400 women entrepreneurs as well as 140 women-led small and micro businesses and will include the construction of 100 facilities to support capacity building and women’s economic empowerment activities.
The selection of the seven provinces was based on the rate of female labour participation while taking into account the security situation and prevailing restrictions. The provinces are in the East (Kunarha), Southeast (Logar), South (Kandahar, Zabul), Northeast (Baghlan, Kunduz), and Central (Kapisa) regions.