Eurasia Foundation (EF) has received an 18-month award from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) at the U.S. Department of State to implement a women’s rights advocacy project in Afghanistan. The Salaam Initiative will enhance the capacity of Afghan civil society to protect and advance women’s rights in the context of the ongoing peace process. 

EF, in collaboration with its local partner, the Afghanistan Peace House (APH), will build upon local and international investments to advance Afghan women’s rights over the last two decades. Afghan women’s access to education has improved significantly in the past 10 years. Women have also increased their presence in the labor force and government. Of the 68 seats reserved for women parliamentarians, nearly 20 are currently occupied by women who have been elected in their own right. Nevertheless, according to UNICEF, two-thirds of girls do not attend school; approximately 35% of Afghan girls are married before the age of 18; and nearly 90% of Afghan women experience domestic abuse.

“EF is incredibly proud to partner with DRL and the Afghanistan Peace House to improve grassroots advocacy around women’s issues in Afghanistan and empower Afghan women. Improving the lives of women and girls is crucial for improving society overall. We do not see stable and prosperous societies that do not educate and empower their women and girls,” said EF President Lisa Coll. 
 
EF’s Salaam Initiative will strengthen the capacity of Afghan civil society leaders and community activists to elevate women’s priorities and rights by improving their advocacy skills. The project will support advocacy initiatives grounded in the self-identified needs of the community. These new skills will support Afghan civil society leaders in effectively mobilizing for changes in practices detrimental to women’s rights. Special emphasis will be placed on leadership and negotiation skills to enable participants to engage with critical actors such as local development community centers, the Ministry for Peace, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and the Office of the First Lady of Afghanistan.  
 
The project will provide online and in-person trainings in leadership, multi-stakeholder engagement, and advocacy planning. EF will use its proven adult learning strategies to include a series of practical online workshops with real-life assignments. Workshops will culminate in a period of customized coaching to support the implementation of advocacy campaigns. APH will also lead in-person sessions, designed to augment these online courses, which will maximize the impact of the trainings. 
 
“About two-thirds of Afghans are under the age of 30. This means that most of the population has not grown up under Taliban rule. They represent a new generation that is more open, technologically savvy, and motivated to push for positive change,” said Sara Shirzad, EF Senior Director of Innovative Training Solutions. “We want to support Afghans determined to improve their country and the lives of women and girls, and this is a unique moment to be able to do that work.” 
 
Eurasia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to the idea that societies function best when people take responsibility for their own civic and economic prosperity. EF’s programs help small businesses become more successful, government more responsive and accountable, and civic organizations more effective and resilient. EF has offices and programs in the Eurasia region, the Middle East, and China. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  
 
For general inquiries related to the Salaam Initiative or to Eurasia Foundation, please contact Communications Officer Julia McLean at jmclean@eurasia.org