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BAAG launch their Getting it Right report on gender programmes

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Women’s rights and gender inequity was a key justification for the international intervention in Afghanistan in 2001. In November 2001, Prime Minister Blair’s wife Cherie held a press conference with female Afghan refugees in Downing Street: extolling the fighting spirit of these Afghan women she stated “In my experience as a professional woman and a mother and somebody who has been on the margins of the political world, I have seen how all communities work more smoothly and productively when women are involved and have a voice.”

Consequently millions of pounds have been spent in Afghanistan on programmes to raise the voice of Afghan women, to improve their education levels, to support their return to employment, to increase their political and social participation. But how successful have these programmes been? That is the question BAAG, its member agencies and, most importantly, Afghan civil society actors, wanted to answer – to ensure greater levels of success in the coming decade.

BAAG are therefore pleased to launch today their Getting it Right report, capturing various discussions on the successes, challenges and recommendations regarding gender programming in Afghanistan.

In March of this year we held the 2 day Getting it Right: Gender Programmes in Afghanistan conference. Four visiting Afghan gender specialists participated in working groups and panel discussions with various international development experts and academics. Together we explored various aspects of gender programming, including the role of the media, the need to involve men and boys and the challenges of respecting Islamic values. Our report also includes the findings of earlier gender-focused discussions and events in 2013.

“The report provides a roadmap to practitioners as well as the donor community on the importance of effective gender programming, “ comments Belquis Ahmadi, one of the four Afghan gender experts at the conference.

“No one wants to see the gains that Afghan civil society, including women’s rights groups, has made over the past 10 years to be in vain,” she continues. “To protect those gains, the international community must commit to continued funding for programs that promote gender equality and civil society – in all aspects and phases of the country’s rebuilding efforts.”

Our report aims to offer discussion points for further investigation and analysis. Gender programming is complex, and many programmes have suffered from an over-simplified approach, or insufficient contextualisation for the needs of local women and their communities. The recommendations generated in our discussions are supplemented by BAAGs suggestions for further research and analysis – for which we hope to secure funding.

We hope the report will prove useful for those planning, implementing or reviewing gender programmes, and welcome opportunities for collaboration to continue these important discussions.