Women Brave and Power Emergency Projects in Bamyan Province
October 5, 2022
By Barry Greville-Eyres, UNDP, Bamyan Afghanistan
Numbers are significant and telling in this uncanny story of synchronicity and resilience. In a more-than-chance meeting, high up in the Foladi Valley of Afghanistan's Central Highlands, women's deft touch and rightful voices resonate once more, post - August 2021.
As part of UNDP Afghanistan's pioneering Area-based Approach to Development and Emergency Initiatives (ABADEI), Pamela, the new Regional Manager of the Central highland office of Bamyan, and Fatima, Community Mobilizer of UNDP Afghanistan’s partner Islamic Relief (IR), met by sheer coincidence during the regular work monitoring and quality assurance activities. Fatima described the exact moment as “Shock, surprise and transforming into pure joy and pleasure”. Inspired by the unique opportunity, Fatima articulated her pride and passion for serving in her pivotal role as a Community Mobilizer- an essentially male-dominated domain.
Of the eight Mobilizers employed locally by IR, two are women and are far from daunted by this imbalance. They are highly respected and well received by community leaders and members alike, being responsible, with the engineers for monitoring of work progress and quality assurance aspects with repeat – follow up visits to several project sites to ensure that corrective actions are taken. Fatima shares, mischievously, the countless occasions on which both her and colleague Sadiqa were ‘promoted’ and referred to by communities as fully-fledged Engineers. Sadiqa and Fatima celebrate their IR employment and the socio-economic independence that it brings. As Community Mobilizers, they are hands-on with the selection, monitoring, and payment of community members as part of UNDP Afghanistan’s life-sustaining, cash-for-work activities. Witnessing payments to hardworking beneficiaries infuses them with great hope and immense job satisfaction. Restoring dignity to impoverished communities is the absolute highlight of their roles.
Pamela’s bonded happiness and solidarity with Fatima, Sadiqa, and other IR women staff were evident at a follow-up meeting in the IR Bamyan office, a day later. Similarities abound, and Pamela can fully relate - out of the eight Regional Managers recently appointed by UNDP Afghanistan, two also happen to be women. Pamela embraces her challenging role and is determined to create “space for the participation of women within the UNDP Afghanistan ABADEI context and promising pathways for other women to re-enter the workplace through formal and informal employment.”