Young women of Afghanistan gain entrepreneurship skills to boost their economic opportunities
Date: Wednesday, February 3, 2021
40 young women, who came to Kazakhstan from Afghanistan in 2019 and 2020 to study recently benefited from UN Women training on entrepreneurship and business skills to increase their employment opportunities after graduation.
Organized in cooperation with the Narxoz University, the initiative is part of an academic programme funded by the European Union and implemented by the UNDP in partnership with the UN Women.
These young women study in universities and academic establishments across Kazakhstan to receive bachelor’s or master’s degrees and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) certificates in Agriculture, Finance and Mining.
Women of Afghanistan often face disproportionate barriers to education and employment compared to their male counterparts back home.
UN Women spoke to some of the students about their future plans and dreams*.
Geety Zafar, 25, currently lives in Almaty and is enrolled in Academic English Preparation Courses at the Almaty Management University (AlmaU). She is from Mazar-i-Sharif, a city in the north of Afghanistan. After graduation, she is planning to work for organisations in Afghanistan which support gender equality.
“My mother is my hero. She worked hard day and night, moved to different places in Afghanistan to be able to support our family financially. Her only wish was that my brothers and I would get an education and become financially independent. I was one of the few women who studied in the university in Afghanistan. One day I will manage my own company and contribute to the development of my country. Afghanistan is a great place with beautiful culture and history, and I want more people to know about the country and its people. And I know that if I work hard, I can achieve my dreams and help those left behind. I am convinced that one person can make a big difference. Look at my mom.”
Habiba Nazari, 22, is a student of AlmaU Language School. Born in Ghazni, raised in Kabul, she dreams to continue her studies and getting a PhD, as she believes education is very important and makes people’s lives better. Her goal is to become a Parliamentarian and contribute to government policies on gender equality.
“It is my dream that all girls in my country can one day receive an education. I am aware that it would take a long time but I’m hopeful and I’d like to be part of this process. It is motivating to know that after obtaining a degree, I can get a job and earn money while supporting women and girls in my country. During this winter school, I met some inspiring girls from my country. We are determined to unite our efforts back at home and make our national policies better for all.”
Muzhgan Hussaini, 27, is studying for her MA in Mining at the Satbayev University in Almaty. Born in Bamiyan, raised in Kabul, she dreams of joining the UN Women team in Afghanistan. She says that being able to study in Kazakhstan and pursue her degree in Mining is one of the most important decisions she made in her life.
“The Winter’s solstice celebrated on the “longest and darkest night of the year” in December is my favourite festival. It is a time when friends and family gather to eat, drink, and read poetry until well after midnight. My family and I usually make wishes and make plans on that night. I think I am a lucky person because my family supports me with all my plans and endeavors, including coming to Kazakhstan to study. In the future, I want to join UN Women to support women and girls in realizing their wishes made during this festival and all year around.”
Shahla Muram, 27, is studying at AlmaU Language School. She has solid experience in working on a range of issues including gender-based violence, equal access to education, and developing business opportunities for women in agriculture.
“Forced marriages, street or work harassment and educational challenges of girls shouldn’t be present in the lives of Afghanistan women. They deserve much better. I am happy to see so many motivated and smart young women here in this winter school since it gives me hope that gender equality can be a reality for us all. We can use the knowledge and skills we gained here to be better professionals and better citizens for our country.”
Masooma Hashemi, 26, is studying at Language School at AlmaU University. She believes that more women are needed in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and that women must be included in decision making.
“I come from Bamiyan city. It is one of the most stunning places in the whole country with picturesque natural sights and turquoise lakes. My hometown and its friendly people inspire me to achieve my career goals and bring them development and prosperity. I plan to become a great engineer and set a role model for young girls in achieving their dreams. One day, I will have my own big company and will stay responsible and committed to gender equality. Progress for girls and women means progress for all.”
In the framework of this project, another workshop is conducted for women of Afghanistan who study in Uzbekistan.
*The views expressed in this article are those of the young women who UN Women interviewed and do not necessarily represent the views of the European Union, UN Women, UNDP Kazakhstan, the United Nations or any of its affiliated organizations.