In 2022, the UK public came together to stand by Afghan women, recognising the transformative potential of investing in rural women, and their ability to become changemakers in their communities. Together we raised over £593,000, a phenomenal amount made possible through UK Aid Match, where every donation was matched pound for pound by the UK government.

With these funds, we were able to launch our By Her Side project and target three main obstacles faced by rural women today:

  1. Food insecurity: the inability to adequately feed themselves or their families
  2. Household income: with increasing restrictions on women and girls, as well as the ongoing economic crisis, many families have been unable to make ends meet or afford basic necessities.
  3. Social agency: facing restrictive social norms and edicts from the authorities, rural women are increasingly absent from public life, and have been left unable to learn new skills due to restrictions on formal education, or earn an income in many industries.

Last year, 769 women across some of the most underserved regions of Afghanistan were supported through this vital project. By providing them with livestock of their own, including cows and goats, as well as dairy processing kits and training on best practices in animal husbandry, the project ensured these at-risk women had the ability to learn new skills and gain autonomy over an important income-generating source for their families, shifting family power structures whilst tackling key issues in the community. With 94% of female participants having received no formal education at all, this project provided an important pathway to bolstering women and girls’ social and economic position in a way that had never before been possible in their local areas.

New livelihoods, newfound confidence

Equipped with these new skills, the rural women participating in the project were able to sell products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt to their neighbours and at local markets, enabling them to meaningfully contribute to household income and create new opportunities for themselves and their families. As a result, 100% of project participants reported improved future income-generating opportunities and improved ability to meet their household food needs.

Nazifa told us about the improvements she has seen in her children’s wellbeing since she took part in the project: "I gave milk and yoghurt to my kids. I now know that their health situation has improved, and when I got the cow and my kids drank the milk, they became healthy and said that they were able to learn more in school.”

For Gulsum, this meant she could invest in her childrens’ futures: “The milk that is surplus to our needs, I sell to my neighbours, and with the money I get from that, I can buy wheat flour, sugar, soap, tea, notebooks, and books for my kids.”

First improving food security, then improving entire futures

Emboldened by their newfound knowledge and confidence, these rural women have exciting plans for the future, with great ambitions of what they are able to achieve with their profits and lives.

“We are feeling happy about our current situation and have plans for the future.” Saedaro told us, “When I own at least two or three cows, it will enable us to produce more dairy products like yoghurt, cheese, and cream. This expansion will double our profits. Looking further ahead, my ultimate goal is to establish a cow farm and create an even more sustainable and thriving business.”

The inspiring plans these women share also demonstrate the long-term benefits of the assistance they received thanks to the funding from the UK government and public. Through this timely support, these resilient women will be able to build their own legacies and rewrite the future of their families. 

Like Saedaro, Nazifa is also keen to grow her new business: “I want to increase my livestock, create a market for my products, help the underprivileged, and work with my husband to provide for the needs of our family. Thank you to Afghanaid, as Afghanaid increased our food security in the most crucial way possible.” 

You make these projects possible

Through the implementation of the By Her Side project, a transformative initiative aimed at supporting rural Afghan women, significant progress has been made towards fostering women’s economic independence and social inclusion. These inspiring rural women have started small businesses and increased the money they earn, decreased food insecurity in their local areas, and gained greater respect within their communities.

Without the UK Government and the UK public seeing the importance of keeping up sustainable development programmes for Afghan women, who have faced immense challenges over the past two years, this really important project would not have been possible.

- Sarah Kazimi, Deputy Manager, Afghanistan Resilience Consortium

Through investing in Afghan women, this project has shown how we can tackle food insecurity, lessen debt and bolster household income, support the health and wellbeing of young children, and find innovative ways to ensure women are able to lead full and enriching lives despite the immense challenges they face. As Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis continues, this assistance has never been more important.  

Show your dedication to supporting these resilient women once more by donating to our International Women’s Day appeal:

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*Please note, all participants' names have been changed to safeguard their privacy