EQUALITY for Peace and Democracy
Name of Project: Improving the Economic Independence of Women Protection Centers and Its Beneficiaries Through Market-Driven Entrepreneurship
To ensure the financial sustainability of women protection centers and the successful reintegration of its beneficiaries into society by gaining economic independence through entrepreneurship
Increased financial sustainability of the AWSDC Kabul protection centers through the income generated from the tailoring center
The project aims to scale up the novel income-generating program piloted by AWSDC that address the issues of resource scarcity at women’s protection centers and a lack of economic independence and transferable skills for the women seeking refuge – in line with all three of the RFP’s objectives. The pilot program consisted of vocational trainings in tailoring that were customized to the needs, interests and skill levels of the women, and a mutually agreed upon percentage of the small enterprises’ profits were used to finance the operations of the protection centers. This intervention have proven to be effective in providing women with self-help tools to gain economic independence and become entrepreneurs, while simultaneously diversifying and strengthening the sources of income for women protection centers. This is particularly important at a time when aid is likely to decline post-2014 because shelters are for the most part run by non-profit organizations and financed by international donors. Besides providing trainings to build the technical and marketing skills of women in protection centers, the project will also provide psychological and psycho-social support as many of the victims’ traumatic experiences inhibit them to become socially and economically active.
In order to increase the likelihood of the women entrepreneurs’ success, this project will not only scale up the income-generating program in Kabul (implemented by AWSDC) but also undertake a Rapid Market Assessment (RMA) in Kabul (conducted by EPD). Market research has increasingly become part of the development toolkit for interventions as a means to build sustainable solutions that empowers poor men and women in low-income countries to develop and grow small enterprises. A recent case study from Kyrgyzstan shows that market research can be particularly powerful to support women entrepreneurs who lack the educational and technical skills and social capital to start up small businesses. However, such as research has not been conducted in the context of Afghanistan. This project is in that sense innovative. The aim of the RMA is to a) examine barriers that limit the women entrepreneurs’ access to markets (e.g. lack of access to business information, human capital) and to b) provide information on the size and growth potential of specific trades in local and regional markets. The research methodology will be developed in collaboration with a consultant specialized in market research as EPD has the research capacity but not this particular expertise.
The project will adopt a holistic approach to maximize the potential of market research by linking it with vocational training and advocacy activities. The third pillar of the project – the other pillars being the income-generating programs and a RMA – will consist of multi-level dialogues (implemented by EPD and AWSDC) as a means to ensure that stakeholders at the community, provincial, national and international level get involved to improve the sustainability of women’s protections centers and economic independence of their beneficiaries. As has been recommended by the UN with regards to the lack of enforcement of the EVAW law, collaboration between different government sectors, state and non-state actors is necessary to ensure that progressive laws are signed and enforced and that women affected by violence receive effective support from all parties engaged. The dialogues will benefit from
EPD’s extensive experience in facilitating local dialogues and organizing national conferences on women’s issues across Afghanistan. For the dialogues, a stakeholder mapping will be conducted pre-project to map the relevant actors that this project has to involve in order to expand the project’s level of influence – which is part of EPD’s M&E Guidelines. Stakeholders such as Departments and the Ministries of Women’s Affairs, Provincial Council Members and Members of Parliament, Ministry of Justice, international donors, women’s protection centers and other VAW-related NGOs, as well as others will likely be included in the dialogues.
The division of labor between EPD and AWSDC for this project is as follows. EPD will conduct the RMA assessment, organize the community, provincial and national dialogues, and develop advocacy toolkits for these dialogues based on the RMA and input from the beneficiaries. AWSDC will be responsible for the shelter-related activities as they will organize the vocational trainings, marketing trainings, psychological and psychosocial training and treatment sessions, the income-sharing strategic plan and the international dialogue.
It is also important to note that the direct beneficiaries will primarily be women who stay at the AWSDC protection center in Kabul (108 women). However, reintegrated women who were previously in the AWSDC protection center in Kabul will also be involved in the project’s training’s (50 women) in order to ensure the project’s multiplier effect, as well as women from other protection centers in Kabul (50 women). An additional 120 women and 100 men will indirectly benefit from the project through the organized dialogues.