Graduates of the Master’s Programme in Gender and Women Studies cheers with joy. © UNDP / Omer Sadaat / 2019

Kabul, Afghanistan, 19 June, 2019 --
 Kabul University held the 2nd cohort’s convocation ceremony of its Master’s Programme in Gender and Women Studies. This batch consists of 28 students (21 female, 7 male) who started their master’s programme in 2017.

After pursuing two years of the intensive programme through 16 courses, the students are now able to recognise structural inequality, gender and power dynamics in society. This is a pioneer programme in the field of gender and women’s empowerment in Afghanistan, to enable the graduates bridge gaps between theory and practice in the society. Currently all of the graduates are working as gender experts in government and non-government entities, applying the knowledge and skills they have acquired.

In Afghanistan the low participation of women and girls in public life in Afghanistan poses a serious challenge for development. Poor access to health care, deprivation of human rights, low economic productivity, limited access to education, striking gender inequality and lack of participation in decision making, all adversely affect the lives of women in the country. To ensure women’s active participation at all levels, promoting gender equality is deemed a priority.

The need for establishing a Master’s Programme in Gender and Women Studies is rooted in the notion that the Afghanistan women’s empowerment agenda suffers from inadequate national expertise to contribute to promoting gender equality and mainstreaming into government policies, strategies and programs at national and provincial levels. The program also aims at introducing gender as a theme in academic institutions.

“The Master’s programme in Gender and Women Studies has been an important step for development of the Afghan education system.” says Ghulam Farooq Abdullah, Dean of Social Sciences Faculty of Kabul University. “the implementation of this programme will further strengthen gender justice within Afghanistan.”

The third cohort are already underway with their studies, while the application process for the fourth cohort has recently concluded, with the selected students will start their classes in September 2019.

“I can proudly declare that my studies in MA Programme in Gender and Women Studies have enhanced my understanding of gender and helped me in my routine work to better promote gender equality and human rights”. - Mohammad Abul Ahrar Ramizpoor, student of the second cohort. 

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.

"Afghans are bright even without education. With education I’m sure that Afghan people will make remarkable history” says H.E. Rhee Zha-hyoung, Korean Ambassador for Afghanistan.

“Let’s make Afghanistan the best place for a woman to be born.”

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, as part of their support to the Sustainable Development Goal of Gender Equality (SDG 5).

This work is part of UNDP’s Enhancing Gender Equality and Mainstreaming in Afghanistan (EGEMA) project 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.

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