One success story illustrating how the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) not only trains women to support themselves but also empowers them to be leaders in their communities comes from one of AIL’s sewing and tailoring training courses in Herat. Parima was a student in one of AIL’s WLCs in Herat Province. Since completing the course, she has established her own business sewing garments and is earning a good income. Because Parima’s village didn’t have a center, Parima began training women and girls in tailoring. She is now working in conjunction with AIL and when Parima’s students complete her course they will be allowed to take AIL’s final sewing exam. After successfully completing the exam, the students will be awarded with a certificate from AIL.
Between January and July 2008, the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) has held 8 Leadership workshops for 282 Afghan men and women in Herat and Kabul, Afghanistan and Peshawar, Pakistan. From these Leadership workshops, AIL has also developed Capacity Building workshops. From January to July 2008 AIL has held 4 Capacity Building Workshops for 69 Afghan men and women.
A participant of the leadership workshop said, “There is a lot of violence in our society, and this workshop gave me many skills that I can use to help my people, especially women, to save them from violence and self immolation.”
Another participant of the leadership workshop said, “I learned during the workshop that everybody has some qualities of a leader but we need to empower our selves. The leadership of Professor Sakena Yacoobi really gave us more energy to take steps to work hard for our people. I have a good economic situation and I decided to start a baby center to help those women who work outside their home. I hope I can do this, and because of the energy I got from this workshop, I believe that I can do it.”
A participant in a Capacity Building workshop held in Herat said, “I have attended many workshops given by different organizations, but the quality of instruction I received here was wonderful. This is because AIL finds out what the people need and designs good workshops.”
In 2007, the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) has held 10-day Leadership Workshops for 109 women and 35 men in Herat Province. Advanced Leadership and Capacity –Building Workshops have been held for 188 men and 91 women in Herat and Kabul Provinces. Participants included teachers, government workers and members of civil society.
The leadership workshop participants in Herat found the workshop very valuable. They commented that their ways of thinking were changed after the workshop and they particularly liked the group work and the opportunity to share ideas with others. Female participants noted that they had learned a great deal about their rights and how to defend their rights and also about what it means to be a leader. They said that they would convey what they had learned to other women. Male participants were initially very sensitive but after a few days their minds began to change and they began to see that violence against women is not productive for the society. Some men said that when they went home, after attending the workshop, they began to help their wives with housework and their wives were very surprised and asked what had happened and the men said that their ideas had changed because of the workshop. All learned how to listen and respect others ideas in the group work. At first there was some difficulty with the men accepting ideas from the women but this changed after a few days. One religious leader in particular greatly changed his way of thinking.
The participants in the Democracy, Women’s Rights and Capacity-Building Workshops in Herat were very active and enthusiastic in participating in group work, having already learned about this in previous AIL workshops. They all found the workshops to be very valuable and suggested that additional workshops be held with more advanced topics and include more about social discussion, psychology, examples of successful organizations, law, social justice and an opportunity to work together to plan a project from different aspects—administration, management, financial management and planning. They also suggested that these workshops should be held for managers in the various Herat districts.
The participants in the Democracy, Women’s Rights and Capacity-Building Workshop in Kalakan found the workshop to be very valuable and felt that they had learned a great deal. According to the evaluation by the participants, the most important things that they learned were the following:
• how to have democracy in an Islamic society
• how to bring out the positive qualities of leadership within ourselves
• mechanics of administration
The participants said that in five days they had learned two months of material. They recommended that the time of the workshop be longer and that it be held for NGOs and other government workers.
Between January and September 2006, the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) has held 15 Leadership workshops for 449 Afghan men and women in Herat and Kabul, Afghanistan and Peshawar, Pakistan.
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