A grant has been awarded to Friends of Hand in Hand International

A grant has been awarded to Friends of Hand in Hand International.

Founded in 2003 in South India, Hand in Hand is a global network of NGOs who share a vision of reducing poverty and building gender equity through a community-based approach, characterized by self-help, entrepreneurship and community development. The network works towards women’s economic empowerment and resilient livelihoods to create sustainable change for families.

The issue being addressed is the deep level of rural poverty and hunger in Nawabad Arabha, Afghanistan, which is exacerbated by gender inequality and the lack of women’s economic empowerment. Located in Balkh Province, women and families in Nawabad Arabha are highly vulnerable due to this entrenched poverty, lack of opportunity and skills, climate threats and the marginalization of women. This will be addressed using Hand in Hand’s integrated training program surrounding livelihoods, enterprise creation and women’s economic empowerment. By training women to run microenterprises, the project will vitalize community income generation, with ongoing revenue through local market linkage. Evidence shows that women fund basic needs (health, education) at double the rate that men do. Further independent studies of Hand in Hand’s work in Afghanistan shows significant improvement for women’s empowerment, with up to 99 percent of female participants reporting improved mobility, access to markets, self-confidence and capacity to influence decisions around household spend. Moreover, local men report improved attitudes towards women’s autonomy and economic independence.

The funds will support poverty reduction and economic empowerment for  Afghan women through Hand in Hand’s proven 4-step model: 1) Mobilization: Following an inclusive mobilization process, Hand in Hand will create a number of supportive Self-Help Groups (SHGs) for social empowerment and savings. The SHGs will be trained in group management, leadership, and life skills including numeracy and literacy. The trainers will be local women recruited as Village Enterprise Facilitators (VEFs) to embed knowledge in the community and ensure cultural sensitivity. This also reduces travel which is more secure and cost effective. 2) Training: SHGs will be trained in finance, business and vocational skills to support the creation of 100 profitable, climate-adapted microenterprises. Hand in Hand will hire Vocational Trainers to give vocational skills training that are relevant to local markets and climate resilient. Approximately half the enterprises will be in layer poultry, with others in livestock (e.g. goat rearing), handicrafts, services (e.g. tailoring) and more. 3) Productive Assets: Once members’ business plans have been approved, Hand in Hand provides them with enterprise start-up kits of core productive assets, e.g. coop, feed and chickens for a layer poultry enterprise. 4) Access to Markets: Hand in Hand supports members to reach markets through value addition training and linking members to co-operative micro-processing associations for sustainable revenue. Hand in Hand facilitates SHG cross-fertilisation visits for members requiring additional support to engage in peer learning, strengthening the local network of members.

Striving to make sustainable improvements in women’s and children’s rights, education and welfare is core to this request. Through the project, highly vulnerable and marginalized women will be socially empowered through building supportive networks and radically increasing their mobility and agency. When women earn an income, the benefits for children in health, education and housing are significant, with research showing that women entrepreneurs spend far more than men on their families. To get more children into school and with brighter futures, empowering their mothers is essential.

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