In the deeply gender-segregated culture of Afghanistan, few women find work outside the home. Trapped in their own family compounds, it is rare for a woman to experience the empowerment and freedom that education and employment can bring. In this context, TEAR’s partner Hagar Afghanistan is providing opportunities for women to develop the skills and capacity for work, enabling many to escape the confines of the home environment and earn an income.
This is one woman’s story.
A note to the reader: This story contains details of drug use and domestic violence.
“I was a young and happy girl living in Iran as a refugee. I got married, and moved to Afghanistan. At the beginning my married life was not so bad, but as days passed, my husband stopped working. I then realised that he was addicted to drugs and the worst days of my life started.
As he was not able to work and didn’t have money to buy drugs, he was continually angry and frustrated and beat me all the time. I had to tolerate it because I was pregnant and had nowhere to go. We were living in a rented house but we weren’t able to pay the rent and eventually the landlord kicked us out of the house. We went to live with my brother. I did not feel comfortable in his house as my brother's wife’s behaviour was bad towards me and my children. My husband would stay out at night and one night I followed him and found out that he was using drugs and staying under the bridge where all drug users go. It was really painful for me.
The next day I left my brother’s house and went to my father-in-law’s home and asked them to please give me a room where I could live with my husband and kids. They gave me a room which was made for goats and cows but I accepted that and then I tried to start my husband’s treatment in hospitals but it didn’t work.
I felt really hopeless and worried about my children’s lives because their father was careless and addicted and I felt I could do nothing for myself as I was a woman. As days passed I became sick of thinking negatively. My husband was always beating me, his family was violating me as well and I was forced into isolation with no one to turn to. I had nothing; no food no clothes and no money to pay the rent, my husband sold every single thing we had. My father’s family also did not want to keep me or support me; they encouraged me to ask for a divorce, but because I had four small daughters I didn’t see how I could, so I just tolerated everything that happened to me.
Then one day my neighbour told me about (Hagar’s) Empowering Women for a Better Future (EWBF) program. In EWBF I took part in personality development trainings, life skill trainings and some employability skills. Then, as my confidence grew, I joined a hairdressing course and learned a lot. I started working part-time as I really needed to earn some money for my kids' food and clothes expenses. The counselling sessions, trainings and cohort group meetings with women helped me a lot. I realised that I am not the only woman who faced problems and challenges in her life, but that there are many women who have suffered from difficulties, but they healed.
It gave me positive energy and made me active. I believed that I too could heal and could change my life. Now I have a part-time job in a hairdressing salon and the rest of the day I do tailoring at home. I have enough income to meet my life’s basic needs and I am very hopeful that I am very close to wholeness and success, I can do better now to give a good and bright future to my kids.
In the short-term I want to start my own hairdressing business with the help of EWBF; and in the longer-term I would love to continue my education and do midwifery as I am an educated woman and have the confidence to improve my skills.”
Hagar Afghanistan’s Empowering Women for a Better Future project enables isolated and vulnerable women, many of whom have experienced violence, to learn the skills needed for independence, confidence and employment. Releasing women from the confines of the family home enables them to become the strong women who nurture safe and healthy families.
TEAR Australia’s partner Hagar in Afghanistan is working to restore to wholeness the lives of women and children that have been torn apart by human rights abuse. They walk with them through the whole journey of protection, recovery, empowerment and integration
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