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Project information

Empowering women in Afghanistan

Empower women in Afghanistan to earn a better income and they will lift themselves out of poverty and earn the respect of their families and communities.

April 2016 - March 2018

Charity information: Hand in Hand International

Hand in Hand International logo
  • Need


    The eyes of the world are on Europe’s refugee crisis, and rightly so. But this holiday season spare a thought for those who’ve been left behind. In Afghanistan, the source of 20% of refugees in 2015, women in Sar-e Pol are trapped by endemic poverty and patriarchy. Almost 50% of girls are married or engaged by 12, pushed into marriages by parents who can’t afford kids. Custom stops women from going to work or school, leaving their wellbeing entirely up to men. Domestic violence is increasing.


    In Afghanistan, as elsewhere, money is power. Just ask Feroza, a 22-year-old mum who started a tailoring enterprise after joining Hand in Hand and learning the basics of business: “My new income means I can spend money on my daughter the way I think is best, without waiting for my husband’s approval.” The money she earns goes to food, medicine and, one day, school fees. Across Sar-e Pol, her story is being repeated: 73% of our members are women vs a target of 35% set by the Afghan government.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Improved healthcare, healthier food and better education for 2,380 women, children and men.


    » 266 people (186 women) join Hand in Hand Self-Help Groups and learn how to save, develop good business skills and create business plans.
    » 242 micro-businesses started or enhanced using our Toolkits or loans from financial institutions. 70% of businesses will be started and run by women.
    » 340 jobs generated (238 for women) in Sar-e Pol province as new start-ups employ others, improving incomes for 340 households.

    What success will look like

    Success will be demonstrated by the number of jobs created and household-income increases of at least 30%.

  • Impact


    Increased incomes enable parents to feed their families, send children to school and buy medicine when they are ill. But our programmes' outcomes are more than financial. In an independent review of our work funded the Government of Sweden, women reported a newfound freedom of movement and increased self-confidence, as well as input into decision-making. We are confident this project will also empower women with skills, self-confidence and greater independence.


    Constrained female participation. Risk aversion strategy: we will engage 30% men to sensitize them on the benefits of female income-generation. Our trainers will be recruited from the village or region where we are working so they understand cultural attitudes and can detect resistance to female participation and adapt the approach accordingly.

    Insecurity. Risk aversion strategy: Our staff training program will include security awareness. Regular security alerts will be circulated to staff.


    We will provide monthly updates on the number of jobs created in Afghanistan, as well as profiles of our ‘Entrepreneur of the Month’. Every 6 months, donors will receive a report tracking numbers of jobs created and lives improved, in addition to any changes affecting our original plans.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £20,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £11,217 Staff costs To cover the salaries of trainers and other staff in the field.
      £4,244 Project activities To fund member outreach, trainer instruction and Enterprise Start-Up Toolkits.
      £3,145 Admin costs To cover costs of rent, utilities, transportation and office supplies.
      £1,394 Monitoring and Evaluation To monitor the project’s impact and report on the number of jobs created.
  • Background


    Sar-e Pol in northern Afghanistan is one of the country’s most remote areas. Three decades of conflict has taken its toll on the province's residents: 55% of the population lives below the poverty line; 49% of households struggle to find enough food; and only 6% of women are literate. Unemployment is critically high and 75% of people rely on agriculture for income. Regular floods and droughts destroy crops and kill livestock, forcing many to sell their assets and take loans to buy food.


    Our project will create 340 jobs in Sar-e Pol province for people living below the poverty line, 70% of them women. (Engaging 30% men is necessary to obtain the consent required to reach women.) Only 3.3% of women in the province are employed. In total, some 2,380 dependants' lives will be improved.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Hand in Hand launched in Afghanistan in 2007 at the request of then-President Hamid Karzai. Since then, we have secured 70% female participation rates (against a government target of 35% for NGOs). We have created 15,244 jobs, trained 35,936 people in business skills and improved the lives of 80,936 people in remote parts of the country, where few other NGOs operate. In 2015 we received the stamp of approval of funding from the British government (DFID).

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    The Project Will Be Run 100% By Afghans. They Understand The Local Cultural Context And Are Best Placed To Deliver Effective Programs

    Our business trainers will be recruited from the very districts where they operate.

    Abdul Rahim Nasry, CEO Of Hand In Hand Afghanistan

    Abdul joined Hand in Hand in 2012 after managing the Afghan government’s National Skills Development Program, helping to shape policy on job creation.

    Kamila Sidiqi, Trustee Of Hand In Hand Afghanistan

    Kamila will advise on female empowerment. She was the first woman to start a business under the Taliban and is Deputy Chief of Staff to the President.

Feroza and child | Tailor | Balkh, Afghanistan

Feroza and child | Tailor | Balkh, Afghanistan

"My new income means I can spend money on my daughter the way I think is best, without waiting for husband’s approval”

Feroza, tailor, Balkh, Afghanistan