Gender Equality Project II (GEP II)

A woman waits at the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association office in Herat to seek legal aid for her case. Photo: UNDP Afghanistan

Since 2002, Afghan women have improved their access to public services and to the public sphere, which had been denied to them during the years of Taliban rule. Some of the most visible signs of progress are the fact that 46 percent of girls are attending primary school and the increasing number of women working in schools, hospitals and government offices.

Despite these achievements, huge challenges remain with respect to women’s mobility, participation in public life, decision making, health, and access to economic and educational opportunities. Only 12 percent of Afghan women can read and write.

Their position in the labour market is also particularly weak. While 47 percent of women participate in the labour force, almost all (95 percent) are in vulnerable employment. Since women’s mobility outside the home is limited for cultural reasons, they work in their houses in activities like carpet weaving, sewing, tailoring and farm duties, especially in rural areas.

Incidents of violence against women still remain largely under-reported due to social norms and taboos, and customary and religious beliefs.

According to the 2008 Global Rights’ report, more than 87 percent of women have experienced at least one form of physical, sexual or psychological violence, or forced marriage.

Victims fear social stigma and exclusion, and face at times threat to life.  In some instances, the police and prosecutor’s offices, rather than following required legal procedures, refer cases - including serious crimes – to traditional assemblies such as jirgas and shuras for advice or resolution, which often reinforce harmful practices. For example, a court may sentence a rapist to imprisonment but a jirga or shura may decide the rapist should marry the victim.



The Gender Equality Project II (GEP-II) focuses on three major issues that Afghan women face: lack of or weak support provided to women’s rights through policies and legal documents; feeble participation of women in the economic activities; and limited access to justice and human rights systems due to the weakness of the judicial system. 

Policy Review and Support:  While Afghanistan has ratified in 2003 the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), there has not been adequate rigorous gender analysis of policies of line ministries to date. This has had a negative impact in the implementation of the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA). GEP-II is undertaking the analysis of 10 policies and supports the review and development of related strategies and action plans. It  also pilots gender responsive budgeting in 25 Ministries and nine Provinces.

Women’s Economic Empowerment:  According to UN Women, only 5 percent of businesses in Afghanistan are owned by women. GEP II plans to support around 300 women to start new businesses each year and to reach a total of 900 women by 2015. The project will also establish four women’s production centres; arrange exposure visits for 250 women entrepreneurs; introduce six new clean technologies and support 30 functional women’s co-operatives in targeted areas. In addition, six joint initiatives for the economic empowerment of women will be initiated with private sector partners to encourage their participation in the regional economies. These activities aim to increase women’s income in the targeted population by at least 20 percent.

Access to Justice and Human Rights:  GEP-II is expected to increase the access of 5,500 women to legal help and, when required, to the state justice system under a collaborative arrangements between MoWA and the Ministry o Justice .

In addition, expected results include the compliance of five laws with gender equality principles; equitable resolution of 35 percent of cases dealt with by traditional justice; the expansion of Women’s Legal Help Centres to 52 locations; the organization of 40 trainings for religious leaders, judges, police and other actors; and the establishment of 15 gender sensitive media centres.

What have we accomplished so far?

  • GEP-II supported the policy review of eight line ministries from a gender perspective. This led to the successful completion of a Policy Review Toolkit to be used by ministries in reviewing the gender sensitivity of their policies and mainstreaming gender in policy and decision-making processes.
  • A ‘Strategic Plan to establish a Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) mechanism’ within the Government of Afghanistan was developed with GEP-II support. The GRB approach was incorporated into the budget statement of six pilot ministries for 2012-2013 to support the fair distribution of resources from a gender equality perspective. This resulted in GRB allocation increase from 27 percent in 2011 to 29 percent in 2013.
  • Over 500 women entrepreneurs from the provinces of Balkh, Bamyan, Herat, and Nangharhar improved their business’ prospects and established market linkages after attending trainings and exhibits, both locally and in Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan, with GEP-II support.
  • 83 percent of legal cases related to domestic violence and women rights’ abuse were resolved through local mediation at Legal Help Centres supported by GEP-II in the provinces of Balkh, Bamyan, Herat and Nangharhar while only 17 percent of cases were referred to the judiciary.
  • Over 100 Religious leaders have increased their understanding of women’s rights in Islam after attending training supported by GEP-II. This was part of a high-level 16-day advocacy campaign on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan. 

Who Finances it?

Donor name

Amount contributed per year in US$


Government of Republic of Korea



Government of Afghanistan


Government of Italy


Government of Canada


Government of Denmark


Government of Republic of Korea


Delivery in previous fiscal year in US$

Dec 2014


Dec 2013


At a Glance
Start Date:
Janaury 2013
End Date:
December 2015
Project Manager
Cecilia Ncube
Focus Area
Gender Equality and Women Empowerment
Implementation Modality
Direct Implementation
Implementing Partners:
Ministry of Women Affairs (MoWA)
Other Key Partners:
Civil Society Organizations; Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock; Ministry of Economy; Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs; Ministry of Justice; Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission; Central Statistics Office; Kabul University
Total Budget:
US$ 30,000,000
GEP II Project Summary
Gender Equality II (GEP II) Project Summary

The Project Summary of Gender Equality Project II (GEP II) covers in two-page PDF document the issues, responses and achievements of this UNDP project in Afghanistan.

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