About the Author: Erin Hart serves as Assistant Information Officer at U.S. Embassy Kabul.
Understanding the critical role of women in advancing Afghanistan’s economic and social development, on January 20, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry joined Acting Minister of Women's Affairs Husn Ban Ghazanfar to launch the Ambassador's Small Grants Program (AGSP) to support gender equality in Afghanistan.
The Ambassador's Small Grants Program is a three-year, $27,000,000 program to strengthen the skills of gender-related, Afghan-led NGO and civil society organizations. The program, which works with the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs to provide technical assistance, also provides flexible, rapid response grants to non-governmental organizations that lack the financial management experience to receive grants directly from the U.S. Government. These grants will address Afghan women's needs in education, healthcare, skills training, economic opportunities, counseling on family issues and public advocacy.
"This small grants project not only improves the trust of people in the government, but also strengthens women's capacity and enhances development projects and initiatives around the country," said Minister Ghazanfar.
Five initial grant recipients were recognized, including:
The Khadijat-ul-Kubra Social and Vocational Association in Mazar-e-Sharif trains women to make lace embroidery by hand. With their grant, they will purchase equipment and help train their members in mechanical lace embroidery.
The Women's Husbandry Association of Charbolak District in Balkh will use its grant to purchase 20 milking cows for 40 women, who will care for the cows and use the milk and other products to generate income.
The Danish Social Association in Mazar-e-Sharif conducts computer and English courses for women in Nahr-e-Shahi district. With its grant, the association will expand its services to teach more than 200 Afghan women skills that will improve their futures.
The Enjeel United Sisters Association in Herat will educate women in eye care to prevent conjunctivitis and other eye conditions that arise in Herat during the summer because of the windy, dry conditions.
With its grant, the Morning Star radio station in Mazar-e-Sharif will purchase equipment to expand its broadcasts in gender issues to all 17 districts in Balkh; the station currently serves only 10 districts.
Over the past two years, the United States has provided over $150 million on programs for Afghan women and children as part of its deep commitment to improving the lives of Afghan women and their families. The United States looks forward to continuing our support for Afghan women in the months and years to come through this and other programs for women and children.
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