Vocational Training Center for Afghan Women
Organization for Promoting Afghan Women's Capabilities
Annual Report 2015
Project Title: Vocational Training Center for Women
Project Location: Afshar District, Kabul
Donor: SAWA-Australia (SA)
Project Title: VTC (Literary Section)
Beneficiaries:300 women and young girls
Allocated Budget for 2014: US$38,000
Total expenses in 2014: US$39,950
Allocation Period: January 2015 until December 2015
Reporting Period: January 2016
OPAWC is proud to have national and international support to continue its activities in support of women finding their position in the community. OPAWC expresses its deepest thanks to all supporters of the Vocational Training Center. Your support lightens the way and lives of the poor and miserable women of Afghanistan.
Afshar District is one of the poorest areas in Kabul city, where warlords are still in power. With the help of the two sections of OPAWC's Vocational Training Centre this area is observing changes in the lives of its people. OPAWC works continuously in this area to help people come out of their misery and forge their destiny themselves.
Regular meetings held in relation to the Vocational Training Center:
OPAWC holds meetings with all its staff once a month. In these meetings one member is selected to work as mediator and writer, whose responsibility is to write down all the issues. Each member gives brief information about her/his class or activity: What has been done, what not, what progress has been made, and what problems did occur? The aim of these meetings is to be informed about all activities in a transparent manner and to find better ways where a problem has arisen to improve the implementation of the project. At the end of the meeting all agree on the outcome of the main discussed issues and put their signatures at the bottom of the paper.
Women committee meetings:
Women committees in women centers are active and hold their meetings regularly every 15 days. Significant changes have been seen in the ways and attitudes of the women in the committee. They are progressing day by day and are capable of solving the violence cases of their families and neighbors. They are happy to see changes in their lives and enjoy the ability they found to help others. The topics of discussion in these months were: Forced marriage, two Heritage cases, kidnapping of a young girl, brutal killing of Farkhunda, domestic violence, and a divorce case.
Literacy and vocational courses:
Enrollments in the classes in the literacy and handicraft sections of the Vocational Training Centre are full and the activities are going smoothly. Some of the students will graduate in few months and will receive their Merit Certificates, and new ones will replace them.
Computer and English Classes:
We have been able to establish an English class in the Literacy Center for 70 women in two shifts but not a computer class yet. There is a strong interest in these two fields. We are in search of a fund to establish a computer lab for these women attending the literacy classes too. But in the Handicraft Center we do have an English class and computer classes for the women.
The students who are attending the English and computer classes are happy to have access to these courses. They have learnt the office program and are able to work by themselves on a computer. They told their teacher that they are able to teach others the things they have learned in the center. As soon as they finished their primary education in English and computer use they will be trained on how to use online websites and how to upload a document. They are waiting enthusiastically to start this activity.
Function of Graduation:
The 2015 function of graduation was celebrated in the Vocational Training Center on 8 May. 150 women received their merit and completion certificates.
The function was held in the basement of the neighboring building, where more than 400 guests, including high ranking members of the government, foreigner supporters, members of the literacy department, heads of women and men shora (Afshar District committees), students and their mothers participated.
The agenda of the function was totally prepared by students themselves, which shows their grown confidence and progress. Students presented songs that described the condition of women and told about their country.
Latifa Ahmady, the Executive Director of OPAWC, presented a speech, where she threw light on the overall conditions of the country and about women who suffered from violence in different times, especially during the deterioration of women's conditions after the arrival of international forces and their professed commitment towards women during the last 14 years. Ahmady encouraged the women to show their presence and to defend their rights. She mentioned Farkhunda's brutal killing in the capital of the country and the sexual abuse of a three year old girl in Kundus province, crimes that will never bee forgotten for centuries. She encouraged the women to take action and never lose hope in the face of the current conditions. She invited all women interested in becoming educated or wanting to learn new skills to come to OPAWC centers and promised the women that OPAWC is for them and will support them to stand on their own feet.
There were two marvelous theater performances, one in the opening of the function, showing illiteracy and darkness overcome by light signifying education and peace and inviting all women to follow the light of education and harmony. In the second theater play towards the end of the function the students developed the story of Farkhunda and showed how religious mullahs deceive the illiterate women and all the people in order to receive money and act out brutality in the name of religion: A girl rises up among the women wanting to help and make the women aware of the mullah's character, she argues with the mullah, but the mullahs claim that they are acting in accordance with the Quran. When the girl prevails over their arguments through her logical words the mullahs call the people, shouting that she burnt the Quran and is a prostitute. The illiterate men then attack the girl brutally, beat her and burn her alive. A moving poem was heard in the background that brought the audience to tears, while the flames of the fire consumed her body.
The function ended with the distribution of certificates and refreshments
Celebration of International Women's Day:
International Women's Day, celebrated on 8 March, is an occasion marked by women's groups around the world. OPAWC celebrated the day in the yard of the Vocational Training Centre. It was totally arranged by the students themselves. Several poems, texts and drama were presented by the students.
Latifa Ahmady the director of OPAWC was happy to see the progress of the students. She praised the students and said that "we women do not want to be greated by a flower or by a scarf which is mostly given by the government; we want practical action not slogans. I am sure if we put our hands together and continue our struggle for our goals, educate ourselves and enhance our awareness, we have the capabilities to break the chains of oppression".
International Women’s Day is celebrated in Afghanistan while the government repeated its past commitments towards women again but gang rape and complicated deaths of women increase in the country.
Celebration of International Teachers' Day:
International Teacher's Day was celebrated in VTC Kabul on 5 October. The program was perfectly arranged by students themselves. They presented speeches, poems and songs in praise of their teachers.
The current war condition has affected the celebration of Teachers' Day in Afghanistan this year. Nevertheless, some governmental institutions held the function. In the Vocational Training Center Administration Director Mohammad Mauroof Rayan and Executive Director Latifa Ahmady talked about the important role of qualified teachers in a community. They asked the students to take active action and to use the opportunity they have to acquire knowledge. They talked about the current situation in 16 provinces where schools are closed and there is no teaching opportunity because of war.
This year the Education Minister Assadullah Hanif Balkhi participated in one of the functions. Praising talented teachers he vowed to address their situation, saying: "Improving teachers' lives has been the top priority in our programs and I will not leave any stone unturned to improve their lives all over the country”.
Last year, President Ashraf Ghani directed the concerned organizations to distribute land to all teachers around the country but this has not yet been implemented. His words were: "All governors and local officials will be directed to urgently act in distributing residential land to teachers and we assure you that this process will be completed within six months”.
The condition of teachers has worsened in Afghanistan; many of them have been killed and kidnapped in the insecure provinces. A few months ago more than thousand teachers closed the doors of the schools with their strike against the corruption in the Ministry of Education, and for not receiving their salaries on time. Billions of dollars under the name of teacher’s salary went into the pockets of Farooq Wardak since he became Minister of Education in 2008. The teachers claimed that the Ministry of Education works on the unrealistic number of 11 millions of school students while only 9. 5 millions of students have the chance to go to schools.
2016 and beyond:
OPAWC hopes 2016 to be a year of peace, happiness and security for all people in the world in particular for Afghanistan’s Women.
OPAWC is in search of finding support to extend the activities of the Vocational Training Centre in other provinces as well. Let’s hope for a better future.
OPAWC is in search of a new building for the Center. We cannot work more than a few years in the same place for reason of security. We have started our survey for selecting a place where there is security for women to come to the center and also a place that follows OPAWC's priority settings for areas in need of the program.
Recent OPAWC activities and participation in different workshops:
OPAWC participated in the following workshops and conferences:
Workshop on medical tips
A one day workshop on medical advice was held for women in the Vocational Training Centre. It was run jointly by the staff and some outstanding students of the center. Topics covered were benefits of drinking water for the kidneys, damage to the bladder due to not relieving urine for long time periods, harm from the use of non-prescription medicine and others.
The workshop was simple but very useful for the women; they took part in discussions and were happy to learn new issues.
OPAWC’s aim for arranging such workshops are to give the women a moment to think differently, to have the chance to talk about different issues, to let them enhance their knowledge and capacity, and to learn ways and methods how to defend themselves when facing a problem.
Distribution of gynecological certificate to women
Over a two-month period OPAWC arranged training sessions about gynecological issues for the women of the Vocational Training Center. The training was held once a week in the Center campus and run by Operation Mercy trainers. The program was very important and interesting for all women.
Issues discussed included pregnancy, what women should do during this period, the various problems that can occur such as bleeding, high blood pressure, swelling of face and feet etc. The program stressed that such problems should be consider seriously. Similarly, issues of nutrition during pregnancy, heavy activities, miscarriages etc. were discussed in details.
On the last day some guests were invited from different sectors, among them the Head of Kabul Women Affairs Dr. Karima Salak. Salak appreciated OPAWC's activities and praised OPAWC for what OPAWC is doing to help women overcome the difficulties in their lives.
Workshop on violence agains women:
Trainers from HAWCA, the Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan, held a workshop about violence against women in the Vocational Training Center on 10 November 2015. The one-day workshop covered issues such as: What is violence, kinds of violence, reasons for violence, why women are not responding to violence, forced marriage, and world-wide efforts to eliminate violence against women.
The increase in the rate of violence against women is the result of a lack of laws to defend women. The Law of Elimination of Violence against women (EVAW) that had been formulated in 2009 during the Karzai period has been put aside and is not used.
Men consider violence as their legal right. This idea is helped by illiteracy and a lack of knowledge about the importance of humane conduct. They think that because they are physically powerful and stronger than women and because they are the economic authority in the family women are dependent on them and it is their legal right to be violent whenever something goes against their wishes.
The issue was of great interest for the women. They participated widely and put forward their experiences of violence that they faced in their own family. Some suggestions were given to them at the end of the program. Women expressed their thanks for providing them with such a valuable workshop.
Workshop on children's rights
A one day workshop was arranged in OPAWC's Literacy Center on 8 November by partner organization HAWCA and many women participated. The workshop described in detail what being a child means according to the Civil Law and the Criminal Law. Many types of crimes against children were presented through lectures and joint discussion.
According to the Civil Law a girl who is below 16 years and boys who are below 18 are called a child. The punishment for those who commit a crime against a child was also described.
The workshop was very illuminating and the women participated with interest in the discussion. OPAWC tries to make the women aware of all aspects of life through such workshops and training.
At the moment around 800,000 children of 7-13 and 14 years of age are engaged in the heaviest work and are sexually abused by warlords and commanders in the country. These children including girls and boys are forced to dance and sing and are paid very little. They are hired for washing vehicles, for begging, for selling drugs. They are hired as workers in the brick furnaces and wood shops and are paid very little money.
These children are deprived of going to school and are the only ones to feed their poor families.