European Union and UNDP discussed the progress of Afghan Women Empowerment project

December 23, 2022
Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Alexey Malchenko

On 15 December 2022, the European Union (EU) and UNDP met together to discuss the progress achieved within the Afghan Women Empowerment project, funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP.

Mr. Johannes Baur, Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation to Kazakhstan and Mr. Sukhrob Khojimatov, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) a.i. Resident Representative in Kazakhstan and, Mr. Talgat Kaliyev, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan opened the online discussions. Representatives of the EU Delegations to Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, UN Women Kazakhstan, Ministries of higher education of country-participants, as well as representatives of the host universities actively attended the meeting.

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Alexey Malchenko

The initiative was launched in 2019 to provide educational opportunities for Afghan women. In 2020, the project received additional EU funding for the second phase of the project and the Kyrgyz Republic joined the programme as a new participating country.

“It is inspiring that despite the challenges the project continues to progress and has entered its second phase,” – said Mr. Johannes Baur, Head of Cooperation Unit of EUD in Kazakhstan. “The programme is being implemented in three Central Asian counties and serves as a bridge to exchange knowledge, experience and cultural heritage. We hope that graduates of the scholarship will contribute to the cause of gender equality in their circle of communication and strengthen the impact of the project”.

The expansion of the programme provides more beneficiaries with the opportunity to obtain the coveted education and university degrees in various fields. By 2027, 155 Afghan women will obtain higher, technical and vocational education at various universities across Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Study programmes in the new phase include BA, MA and TVET training in various fields including Agriculture, Finance/Statistics, Mining, Construction/Engineering, Marketing and Computer Science as well as Media and Communications.

UNDP in Kazakhstan is an implementing partner of the initiative. Sukhrob Khojimatov, a.i. UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan noted: 

“As the UNDP in Kazakhstan, we are honored and very proud to be the agency implementing the programme. Despite significant achievements in recent years, gender equality in Afghanistan has made a dramatic step back since August 2021. We therefore hope this joint effort will continue to make a tangible contribution to the cause of women’s rights to education and work and will serve as an example for future academic projects for Afghan women”.

In January and February 2023 Winter Schools will be held for Afghan women in all three countries. Winter School is an extra-curricular activity provided by the programme and organised in partnership with UN Women Kazakhstan. The curriculum of the school is built around theoretical knowledge on human rights, gender equality, sustainable development and peace-making, and practical exercises to help women improve their leadership, entrepreneurship and soft skills that might increase chances for employment in the future.

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Alexey Malchenko


This cross-border initiative, funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP, allows Afghan women to study and graduate from universities in Central Asia. The initiative aims to provide educational opportunities for Afghan women, who face disproportionate barriers to education and employment compared to their men counterparts back home. Overall, 155 young women from Afghanistan will receive education in Central Asian universities until 2027.