Enabling Gender Equity in NGO Management

December 9, 2008


This fall, the Capacity Development Program trained 19 Afghans from eight NGOs in the ways management practices can develop gender equity in their services to their communities and initiatives.

“Gender inequality in a NGO’s organization can be one of the main obstacles to success and sustainability,” said Mohammad Nassir Anwari, Program Coordinator and Trainer for the Capacity Development Program (CDP).

Held in Bamyan, Afghanistan, a region known for inequality among women and men, participants – including 7 women and 12 men – who gathered in the three-day awareness and sensitivity workshop, came away with new perspectives on developing equity strategies in organizational planning, policy and operation.

Helping NGOs deliver vital services and advocate on behalf of citizens is at the core of the U.S. Agency for International Development-supported Capacity Development Program. The CDP’s NGO component is implemented by Creative Associates International, Inc. as a member of the BearingPoint consortium. CDP is designed to support Afghan efforts to build good governance and democratic practices by focusing on NGOs which deliver services in education, health, women’s rights, human rights and vocational training, among others. Creative provides in-depth training and analysis enabling NGOs to build internal organizational capacities to better serve civil society over the long term.

In total, the CDP NGO team has delivered more than a dozen training sessions on Integrating Gender into Management training to over 196 persons from the 150 Afghan NGOs that CDP targets all over Afghanistan.

“Gender equity policies in a NGO have a direct impact on reducing gender inequality in the community the NGO serves, especially in Afghanistan where male staff cannot, in some communities, work with females because of restrictive codes,” Anwari said.

Participants chose the CDP workshop because of the five steps the program advocates for mainstreaming gender equity in NGOs. In particular, the group addressed the issue of gender equity in the context of Afghanistan and the traditions of its many tribes and ethnic groups, whose perspectives on gender can differ from province to province or even household to household. It was agreed that exploring gender roles in Afghanistan requires a study of Islamic laws, which are not always reflected in traditional practices.

“In the Holy Quran there are many statements concerning women and men being created from one single soul, which indicates the equality of men and women,” Nassir said. “It shows that in Islam there is no superiority of men over women and that both deserve equal treatment.”

Acknowledging that gender equity is a long-term goal for Afghanistan, participants noted the importance of sensitizing their communities. “They said that … their work was to raise awareness about equity issues starting with themselves, their families, their immediate communities,” Anwari said.

The training has already had a personal impact on one male participant. “The training was very good, even for me,” said the man. “Before, when I went home, I did not play with the children or help my wife with the housework. I was not talking to them and spent the time working on my laptop. Now, I leave the laptop at the office and spend time with the family – and help my wife.”

— Alexandra Pratt with reporting and writing contributions from Carla Rosa Borges and Nassir Anwari in Afghanistan.

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