Women’s Leadership Development in Afghanistan
Tetra Tech supported the empowerment of Afghanistan’s most talented young women to become future leaders in government, business, and civil society.
The Royesh Program has been the most effective program in our school to date and has equipped our students with the necessary skills to function and cope with daily life.Ruqia Barakzai, High School Principal, Kabul
With the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Afghanistan (GOA), Afghan women and girls achieved significant gains in education, business, and politics throughout the past two decades. However, opportunities for women to take on leadership positions have historically remained very limited, even for educated women with extraordinary potential. Afghan women have been underrepresented, professionally marginalized, and lacked opportunities to assume decision-making roles in all sectors of society. In 2015, USAID funded the Women’s Leadership Development (WLD) project to ensure that women had opportunities to build their skills and networks of support. With support from Afghan government agencies and membership organizations, Tetra Tech designed WLD to prepare a new generation of highly skilled, talented, and educated women to assume leadership positions to support the betterment of Afghanistan.
WLD developed two cutting-edge curricula, Jawana (Dari for growing sapling) and Royesh (Dari for sprout), to train women for leadership positions. The program provided coaching, training, and mentoring through innovative and participatory teaching techniques to inspire girls and women to take on leadership roles in school, at home, and in society. WLD also provided women with opportunities to continue their schooling or enter a technical or vocational field they were interested in and/or had a strong aptitude for. Throughout five years, WLD recruited and enrolled more than 33,000 women with exceptional leadership potential and a commitment to positive social change.
The Jawana program focused on training in leadership and management for highly motivated women who held at least a high school diploma. Jawana aimed to facilitate entry to and advancement in decision-making positions in social, political, and economic sectors at national, provincial, and district levels in Afghanistan. Jawana participants implemented women’s empowerment and community development projects, applying experiential learning techniques and building support for women’s empowerment within their communities. Projects ranged from public education campaigns on gender-based violence to the development of home-based businesses. By the end of the project, 65 percent of Jawana graduates reported that their families and communities believed that increasing the number of women in leadership positions was a positive change for their communities.
The Royesh program focused on literate women who had completed primary school, but not secondary school, provided its students with opportunities to acquire life and work skills through a curriculum that enhanced social and economic development and leadership at the community level. Royesh events and activities were designed to broaden these young women’s outlook and view of the world and provided opportunities for personal and professional growth.
In addition to the achievements of Jawana and Royesh, WLD supported 1,500 young women who could not complete their education with scholarships to obtain job market skills through WLD programs. Finally, more than 200 women were trained to build a cadre of professional teachers/course facilitators who would then transfer their knowledge to future trainees.
Tetra Tech collaborated on program activities with Afghan government agencies and membership organizations, including the Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ministry of Education, Afghan Women’s Network, and Afghan Women’s Educational Center. Through these partnerships, Tetra Tech ensured that the WLD participant selection process and implementation of program activities were best suited to Afghanistan’s young, educated women and will have a lasting impact.
WLD applied an Afghan first approach that relied on local institutions to deliver project results from the beginning, thus building long-term capacity that would enable the program to continue beyond the five-year implementation period.