Endline Evaluation: Women for Women International’s “Stronger Women, Stronger Afghanistan” Programme
In 2011, Women for Women International (WfWI) received a three-year grant from Human Dignity Foundation (HDF) for its programme, Stronger Women, Stronger Afghanistan. The overall goal of WfWIs Afghanistan programme is to improve the lives of socially excluded women and their families by building self-reliance and access to sustainable livelihood opportunities. The main purpose of the evaluation was to assess the impact of the intervention on women, families and communities in the programme locations.
This evaluation found that while the programme had a number of positive achievements it generally fell short of its target objectives. Fewer than one in four programme participants are earning an income, and of those, more than two thirds were earning an income prior to participating in the programme, suggesting that the programme had little success in empowering non-income earning women to become economically active. Additionally, less than one in ten participants earn more than 1 USD per day, though approximately 1 out of every 2 income earning women saves at least a portion of their income.
Generally, based on the results of the different measurements of womens empowerment included in theevaluation, it could be concluded that programme participants are somewhat empowered in the political, psychological, and physical domains of empowerment, but less so in terms of the socio-cultural beliefs and visibility, economic, familial/interpersonal and legal dimensions. While there have been some very positive outcomes in terms of womens sense of social belonging, self esteem, and self-efficacy, participants also demonstrated contradictorily somewhat negative gender role attitudes, a limited understanding of their rights, and many experience ongoing physical and/or psychological abuse. Taken in context of these findings, the evaluation concluded that at present, structural barriers are not adequately considered or addressed at the very root of the problem, inside the family, or at the macro-level and through institutions and legal mechanisms within the programme. Taken as a whole, the findings of the evaluation would suggest that at minimum, several key assumptions of the programme require further research and consideration.
Specifically, the results chain positing that womens economic participation can transform gender relations was unsubstantiated, particularly in consideration of the pervasive levels of ongoing abuse found in the evaluation. The dominant shortcomings in programme activities that emerged throughout this evaluation were a lack of follow-up support from WfWI, especially in taking what women had learned and translating it into income generating activities, which would require investment, access to markets, business skills and financial literacy, logistic and legal support. However, while the findings regarding womens economic empowerment highlight a number of fundamental areas of the programme that fell short of the programme goal and objectives and other aforementioned areas requiring further focus, the evaluation also found a number of positive aspects of the project. It is evident that the experience of participating in the long-term training programme may make important contributions to womens social wellbeing, and furthermore facilitate womens sense of self esteem and self-efficacy.