AFGHANISTAN:

Global Women’s Issues’ Ambassador-at-Large visits ASGP Kabul Office

November 29, 2010

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U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer with ASGP staff and grantees.

US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer visited the Ambassador’s Small Grants Program office in Kabul on August 11 to meet with grantees and hear first-hand about the progress of the Afghan women’s civil society movement. A day earlier, Ambassador Verveer and her delegation traveled to Mazar where they met with several other ASGP grantees. Ambassador Verveer was instrumental in the design of the ASGP and its initial kick-off in 2009. The Ambassador’s recent visit came soon after Creative celebrated ASGP’s first anniversary and launched a nationwide expansion of the program. Through sustained mentorship, technical assistance, and advocacy, ASGP is supporting women’s groups in health, education, economic development, literacy and advocacy efforts. ASGP has been the pioneer US Government program to advance the Afghan women’s movement and has involved thousands of women during the past year of its existence. The Ambassador’s recent visit to Afghanistan demonstrated her continuing support for the women of Afghanistan. Seated around the table alongside fifteen ASGP grant recipients, ranging from newly created grassroots organizations to well-established and active civil society organizations, Ambassador Verveer led a lively discussion about the future of the Afghan civil society women’s movement. “I’m happy to be here.” Ambassador Verveer said, “You, gathered here today, represent the vibrancy of the Afghan civil society movement. You are the future of your country.” The participants candidly discussed their individual efforts to further women’s rights, how ASGP has been instrumental in their progress, as well as strategies to continue to advance women’s political, social and economic progress in Afghanistan. Fundamental to the discussion was how development programming can transition into a more sustainable model that better involves the local community and builds the institutional capacity of local civil society organizations in the long-term. Nargis Nahan, head of Equality for Peace and Democracy, noted the need to “move from a horizontal model to a more vertical model… and better involve women at the provincial levels. Policy changes are needed from the highest levels to effect change all the way down the line.” Through technical assistance, procurement of equipment and ongoing support, ASGP is working to build the capacity of grantees to become more sustainable in the long-term – a model that was highly praised by all CSOs present. ASGP_Ambassador_Visit  Participants spoke about the impact that ASGP is having on the women in their communities and throughout the country. “The program is having a great impact because ASGP helps us develop our capacity parallel to the implementation of the project,” a member of a CSO said. The delegation led by Verveer included Robin Lerner, from Senator John Kerry’s office, who spoke about the importance of self sustainability of civil-society based women groups. “We hope that women’s groups can sustain their activities whether they receive our support or not.” The event concluded with an exhibition of handicrafts that had been produced by several of the CSOs. Please visit: www.asgp-gender.com

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