In August 15th 2021, the government of Afghanistan collapsed and the country was taken over by Taliban who shortly after announced the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Since then, many activities have been halted, the bank system shut down for a few weeks and is currently gradually reopening and NGOs have been largely impossibilitated to work with the exception of some working on humanitarian assistance. The Afghan economy is in freefall due to years of conflict, drought, and covid-19. The result is that 18m people are in urgent need of humanitarian support and nearly 400,000 were forced from their homes since the beginning of the year, joining 2.9 million Afghans already internally displaced. Among them, women and girls are the most neglected and the first forgotten.
At the moment, girls can only attend education in grade 1 to 6 and in University that can offer segregated teaching. For this reason, de facto, only a few private universities reopened. While schools for boys, grade 7 to 12, reopened, the same did not happen for girls and their schools are currently still closed with the exception of 6 provinces.
Our program is currently on hold waiting for the right conditions to resume working in an environment that is safe for us, as Womanity´s staff and for our girl students. We are among the few organisations able to operate our bank account and were able to pay salaries and support our team on the ground. Furthermore, as private Universities reopened, we were able to resume our scholarship program supporting nine students.
Since the last week of September we are conducting a social media campaign to join forces with others and urge the leadership of Afghanistan to reopen schools for girls and the international community to stand in support of Afghan girls and women so that they can continue their education, have the freedom to pursue careers of their choice and contribute to build the future of our country.
With the new of the Academic year in Afghanistan (end of March 2021), we also started our new cycle of classes. We emnrolled more than 600 students. In Grade 10th girls learn English and we have currently 210 students enrolled in our classes. In grade 11th for our ICT (computer literacy) classes, we have 203 students and finally, in grade 12th for our coding and web development classes, we have 195 students.
At the beginning of June, following a sharp increase of Covid -19 cases in Afghanistan, the government announced a lockdown for all schools (currently expected to end on July 10th ).
In order to maintain a high level of interest in our classes and to preserve girls´ skills and continued education, we are currently running a few workshops online waiting to hopefully resume our regular curriculum and in person classes in mid-July.
In 2021, we also kicked off a partnership with The Rumie Initiative to adapt their educational content to the Afghan context.
In parallel, we are monitoring very closely the situation in Kabul to be able to act in the most appropriate manner on the basis of the reality on the ground as international troops continue to withdraw.
“I was very depressed during the lockdown because there wasn’t any opportunity to continue official schooling but, I am glad that Womanity courses continued. This helped us not to give up with our dreams and continue to have an active educational life despite lockdown ”. Marwa, student of English Language course in Speen Kalai High School.
Key highlights January-December 2020 |
In 2020, considering all operations in the four partner schools and activities organised for alumni, Womanity conducted 44 training modules of different length enrolling a total of 716 students who completed the training and with a very limited dropout rate of 5.4%. The majority of students attended more than a module this year or in previous years. Therefore, we served 469 individual beneficiaries, of whom 76 were students enrolled for the first time in one of our courses in 2020.
During the year, on the basis of the Covid-19 measures enforced in Kabul, Womanity was able to move classes online and again in person always guaranteeing social distance and availability of hand sanitiser and masks.
Although, for some courses, we did not follow our traditional timeline and curricula, we were able to differentiate and somehow expand our offer of courses, to innovate our teaching modules and to continue follow our students and alumni in a time where the official schooling was disrupted enabling them to maintain an active educational life. This not only continued to support girls’ education but also showed resilience and adaptability of our team.
During the lockdown, we ensured that students could attend our classes by providing each a 4G internet connection, while throughout the year we also distributed 70 refurnished 2nd hand laptops for the students who did not have any appliance to do attend online courses comfortably or do their homework.
We assisted 67 alumni to find free online courses in English language or IT related subjects so that they could preserve and improve their skills while waiting for the Kankoor exam (the Afghan University entrance exam). Additionally, in February, 20 students attended a webinar organised by SOWCoders, a New York based organisation led by women working in tech.
During the reporting period 33 internships or volunteering opportunities were on-going or completed (of them 4 are part of a 4y scheme that will support students throughout University). In a couple of cases, girls were offered short term contract extensions following the internship.
5 university students are continuing successfully their higher studies in computer science thanks to our scholarships and additional 7 scholarships were awarded in the last quarter of 2020 when University enrolment re-started. Furthermore, we were able to negotiate with the Salam University a reduction of fees for students graduated from the GCC course.
The lockdown, more than the Covid-19 itself, is estimated to have a long-lasting impact in Afghanistan worsening the already fragile situation of many families for example increasing dramatically the people reaching emergency level of food insecurity as well as the number of children facing acute malnutrition. To do our part and try to alleviate the extreme poverty of families (students and schools’ workers) in our schools’ communities, Womanity mobilised funding to cover two rounds of food parcel distribution for a total of 275 packages. The first at the end of June supported 110 families, while the second at the end of October distributed food to 165 families (about half of them were already supported in the first round).
Womanity distributed hygiene kits in schools and renewed and equipped hygiene facilities with sanitizing materials when they reopened.
With the release of the lockdown in August, Womanity ws able to re-open in-person activities and increase its offer to students by opening new courses in English, basic computer literacy, and introduction to coding. About 350 students are currently enrolled in our classes and expect to complete courses by the end of the year.
We are very proud that throughout the year, we were able to offer additional online courses to GCC alumni both organized by Womanity or by third parties ensuring that they will preserve their skills and learnings while waiting to join University.
In parallel, Womanity is upgrading the computer labs in schools as well as upgrading hygiene facilities to allow a better management of rules related to social distance.
Finally, as part of the COVID relief support, we have organised a second round of distribution of food parcels directed at 160 families (students and schools’ staff) who are facing difficulties due to loss of income or jobs as a result of the pandemic.
Due to COVID19, the start of academic year, which usually is at the end of March in Afghanistan, did not happen and students were left home with limited possibilities to attend online /on television regular classes.
In this context, Womanity was able to quickly move all its vocational training courses online providing students with internet connection, a laptop (if not available at home) and more importantly with the possibility to continue some form of education.
Although the classes had more limited capacities than the in-person one to allow for interaction and sufficient internet bandwidth, we were able to support about 150 students divided in our English, computer literacy and coding classes.
In parallel, Womanity identified families (in the schools’ communities we support) who, due to lockdown measures, were not able to provide for themselves and distributed to them food and sanitation equipment for one month. A second distribution is planned at in August/September 2020.
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