Master’s Programme Opens A World of Possibilities
09 May 2017, Kabul – For Atifa Faizi, graduating from Afghanistan's first Master’s programme in Gender Equality and Women's Rights has opened up a world of possibilities.
“As well as working as a gender specialist," says Atifa. "I want to set up a gender-research and women's-studies centre, and work on gender mainstreaming through research and publishing.”
Atifa now works as a Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Specialist at a consultancy firm in Kabul, and says she would not have gotten her job without her gender degree.
Atifa earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and worked for a while as a lecturer in a private institution in Kabul. It was then that she realized she needed to grow professionally, and learn more about gender equality. Unable to travel abroad, she instead chose to enrol in the Gender Equality and Women’s Rights Master’s Programme at Kabul University.
The Master’s programme is a result of joint efforts begun in 2015 by UNDP, the Ministry of Higher Education, Kabul University, and the Embassy of the Republic of Korea. The first cohort of 22 students (15 of them women) graduated in October 2017. The first cohort of graduate students will help establish a pool of national gender equality specialists in various public and private institutions. These gender champions will in turn be able to contribute to transformational change in Afghanistan.
- For Atifa, graduating from Master’s programme in Gender Equality and Women's Rights has opened up a world of possibilities.
- Atifa now works as a Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Specialist at a consultancy firm.
- The master’s programme is a result of joint efforts begun in 2015 by UNDP.
- UNDP supports Kabul University to manage its transition towards financial autonomy.
Through the programme, UNDP also facilitates exposure to international practices through partnerships with universities across the world. For instance, staff and students from Kabul University have an opportunity to gain an international perspective by visiting and studying with the UN University Gender Equality Studies and Training Programme (UN-GEST) at TATA University, India, and with the University of Iceland.
“Gender Studies is one of the most important subjects in Afghanistan,” explained Mr. Ghulam Farooq Abdullah, Dean of Kabul University’s Social Sciences Faculty, adding “this master’s programme is an academic programme that can bring real positive changes to Afghan society. believe it should expand to other provinces and cover more students.”
UNDP supports Kabul University to manage its transition towards financial autonomy, following a Presidential Decree of 2017, which gives public universities control of their own resources.
Future plans for the Master’s programme in Gender Equality and Women's Rights could include expanding the programme to take on more students, increasing geographical coverage, as well as improving the curriculum and educational resources and inviting more guest lecturers. Hopefully, many more students will be able to follow in Atifa’s footsteps, and discover their own worlds of possibility.
Afghanistan’s first-ever Master’s programme on Gender and Women’s Studies is an example of how UNDP works with government, NGO and civil society partners to bring about gender mainstreaming and strengthen the position of women.
This work is part of UNDP’s Enhancing Gender Equality and Mainstreaming in Afghanistan (EGEMA) and is supported by the Republic of Korea. The project focuses on improving policies, boosting economic empowerment and ensuring access to justice and human rights.