2023 began with a devastating series of rollbacks on women’s basic freedoms. The ban on Afghan women from working for national and international non-governmental organisations in the country violated the rights of Afghanaid's female employees and threatened to make the delivery of humanitarian and development assistance across the country significantly more challenging. 

In the past 18 months, an astonishing 90% of the population have struggled to put food on the table, skipping meals or going whole days without eating, and an estimated 29 million people still require humanitarian support. Yet, in a country where humanitarian and development support has never been so desperately needed, this edict risked considerable damage to the aid ecosystem: due to cultural norms in the country, without women NGO workers, it becomes much harder to directly distribute aid, conduct training and devise women-led solutions, though paradoxically women and children are disproportionately bearing the brunt of the crisis. A female member of staff penned a piece in January which outlined the wide-ranging potential impacts of this decree: 

"All Human Beings Should Have The Right To Work and Earn An Income."

Afghanaid maintains that decrees introduced by the de facto authorities which seek to limit the rights of women must be immediately and fully revoked.

Afghan women and girls deserve to be able to access safe spaces to learn, to be able to dream of bright, successful careers and to have control over their futures.

Charles Davy, Afghanaid's Managing Director.

Achieving meaningful and impactful engagement despite the odds

Organisations like Afghanaid initially suspended operations to devise solutions that could guarantee the principled, meaningful engagement of women project participants and simultaneously protect female staff members. We were able to restart work in February thanks to our Afghan majority team, community-led approach and long standing presence in the remote, rural areas we serve, all of which ensured we could establish and refine localised solutions.

This means that our hardworking staff have been continuing to deliver our vital work - from life-saving emergency support, to longer-term solutions aimed at helping communities grow more food, start micro-businesses and access basic services - without compromising the values of Afghanaid and safeguarding women's meaningful inclusion.

For example, through adapting training curriculums, delivering training sessions in women's homes, and enlisting the support of village elders and female community facilitators to become key agents workshop delivery, we have responded to an extremely difficult and evolving situation with sensitivity, confidence and success, able to reach women directly whilst ensuring the well-being of our female staff.

This means that this year, despite numerous challenges, Afghanaid has been able to work alongside more than 447,000 Afghan women to enhance their economic engagement, improve their inclusion in local governance and full participation in community life, and ultimately gain the tools and confidence they need to help lift their families out of poverty.

Mother of five Siamoi (pictured), spoke to us in the summer about how her self-help group - which was formed and has continued to be supported by Afghanaid in 2023 - has launched a small soap-making business, becoming a financial and emotional lifeline for it's 20 members. 

Read Siamoi's story and find about the power of women's self-help groups

We need your help to keep to reach many more Afghan women in 2024

Afghanistan remains gripped by a dire humanitarian crisis, precipitated by decades of conflict, the growing impacts of climate change and a recent economic downturn.

Yet despite the harrowing statistics, dwindling international funding for this humanitarian crisis threatens aid efforts in the country. We need your support this winter to ensure women and their families can keep warm, stay fed and rebuild their lives. Donate to our Christmas Appeal today to give a woman like Siamoi hope for the new year:

Please select a donation amount (required)
Set up a regular payment Donate