Why Women in Afghanistan Feel More Compassionate (And Why That Matters)

Why Women in Afghanistan Feel More Compassionate (And Why That Matters)


Women in Afghanistan believe that they are now more compassionate—and violence has dropped by 55%. Find out why.

Women in Afghanistan think they are now more compassionate — that learning about the rights of parents, in-laws, husbands, children, and neighbors has taught them to treat others more fairly. 55 percent of them also say that violence has gone down. Why is that? Because learning to treat others fairly has also given them the confidence to stand up for fair treatment themselves, and solidarity groups give them the support and resources to do so.

The Foundation For Peace project ran in Afghanistan from 2012-2016 with $3.8 million in funding from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

What did we accomplish?

  • Violence has gone down: 55 percent of women in the project said that there was less violence in their homes than before the project. Religious leaders say their communities had “more peaceful and more harmonious households.”
  • Women are more empowered: Women say they are more likely to leave the house to go to community meetings. They are also more involved in decisions inside and outside the home, and feel they have more power to stand up for themselves.
  • Families saved more money: By 2015, women in the program had collectively saved $113,555. That’s $64 per woman — about 13 additional days of income for a family.
  • Youth and men have more jobs: Many women used loans to start businesses that employed their sons and husbands — giving everyone opportunities to earn income.  90 percent of women repaid their loans on time.

How did we get there?

  • Help women support each other: The project organized 6,504 women into 95 savings groups and 300 advocacy groups so that they could support each other and build solidarity and skills together. Then they connected those groups to local government and other groups to increase their ability to make change.
  • Target training for what women want: Based on community contexts, the project offered Islamic education, which included basics on how to say prayers and conversations about the rights of all family members. They also included marketing and savings components. All of the savings groups were Sharia compliant so women could feel comfortable in them. 94 percent of women said they were satisfied with trainings — especially the ones on marketing.
  • Include men: The project worked with religious and traditional leaders so they would understand and support project activities rather than feeling threatened by them. This extended to local and national governments.
  • Pay attention to your data and adapt: The project changed its strategies after the mid-term evaluation indicated that not everything was working the way they wanted.
  • Support livelihoods: The project provided cows to 450 women, and got vocational training to 300 women and 100 men so they could improve their economic situation.

Want to learn more?

Read the mid-term and final evaluations.

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