THE PARGIRC PROJECT
In partnership with the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women in 2019, WAW launched a new project aimed at preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV) in vulnerable communities in Afghanistan.
In partnership with the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women in 2019, Women for Afghan Women (WAW) launched a new project to improve the overall access of vulnerable populations to essential, safe, and adequate multi-sectorial services and to address gender-based violence (GBV) in the context of the forced displacement and refugee returnee environments in Afghanistan.
After the Taliban take over in 2021 and with the shuttering of all women's protection centers in Afghanistan, including WAW's, this work has become ever more critical.
This project, entitled Prevention and Response to Gender-Based Violence in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Returnees' Communities (PARGIRC) is designed to ensure at-risk women and girls, refugees, and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Afghanistan's provinces of Balkh, Faryab, and Kunduz have increased access to essential humanitarian services, including access to justice, medical services, mediation, psychosocial counseling, and economic empowerment programs. The lack of any government support to these communities makes the PARGIRC project essential.
Some of the drivers behind the humanitarian needs that WAW tries to address in Afghanistan are an outcome of the country’s challenging conflict displacement and influx of Afghan refugees returning from other countries. Since 2017, the number of Afghan IDPs and refugee returnees has increased exponentially.
Displaced women and girls are often the most vulnerable to shocks, given the loss of assets and means of subsistence, the disruption of community-based safety nets and their frequent exclusion from education and other national social protection. Faced with food shortages and surging prices, many women and girls are being forced to take gut-wrenching decisions to survive. - UNHCR, 11/25/2022
WAW has set-up three mobile teams that service the PARGIRC project in the Balkh, Faryab, and Kunduz provinces. These PARGIRC teams consist of caseworkers, midwifes, psychologists, vocational trainers, social workers and an outreach trainers at the provincial level. Today, the project is run by 30 staff members of which 12 of are female staff and 18 are male. On December 24, 2022, the de facto authorities banned women from working in non-profit operations. However, after lengthy and difficult negotiations and meetings with the Taliban, we were finally allowed to have female staff go back to work but only under the most difficult restrictions and conditions. This situation remains fluid but WAW is determined not to abandon at-risk women and girls, survivors of GBV and other vulnerable populations.
- Providing physical and mental health services to women, girl, and other survivors of GBV and their families in project areas by assisting them in finding safe shelters and protective environments;
- Providing capacity building, life skills, and vocational training to at-risk women and girls and survivors of GBV in project areas to increase their capacity to access economic opportunities and livelihoods, and
- Connecting at-risk women and girls and survivors of GBV with essential support and resources.
Currently, the project works in the provinces of Balkh, Faryab, and Kunduz because:
- These three provinces host the highest numbers of IDPs and refugee returnees.
- Settlement communities in these provinces have the highest number of GBV cases reported among at-risk women and girls who reside in these communities including sexual and physical abuse, child labor, and human trafficking.
The project established Project Mobile Teams (PMTs) that work in settlement communities in Balkh, Faryab, and Kunduz provinces to ensure women, girls, and children refugee returnees and IDPs, and survivors of GBV, have access to medical, legal, mediation services, and psycho-social counseling.
These services are carried out as follows:
- Three PMTs conduct biweekly needs assessments in the settlements to ensure women and children are reached and connected to resources.
- Each PMT is staffed with a psychologist, medical doctor, social worker, case worker, outreach trainer, and vocational trainer.
- PMTs provide vocational and life skills training to women so that they can reintegrate more successfully and independently into the larger, permanent community.
- The project offers human rights training in every settlement community where it operates. This training is made available to Community Development Councils (CDCs), other government officials, community leaders, and IDPs and refugee returnees themselves.
In 2022, 31 PARGIRC staff members served 9,355 beneficiaries (5,694 women and girls and 3,661 men and boys) as follows:
- 1,966 clients (1590 women, 206 girls, and 170 boys) were provided with medical services.
- 822 children (423 girls and 399 boys) whose mothers have experienced GBV were provided with educational supplies.
- 440 vulnerable women participated in the vocational and life skills (needlework or embroidery) classes.
- 1,881 vulnerable women (refugee returnee/IDP survivors of violence) were identified and provided with dignity kits.
- 5,144 individuals received psychosocial counseling sessions.
- 152 group psychosocial counseling sessions were held in vulnerable communities.
- 4,122 IDPs and returnees (1977 women and 2145 men) received GBV awareness-raising sessions.
- 2,445 individuals (1368 women and 1077 men, including community leaders, teachers, and other civil society activists) received Information Dissemination Sessions (IDS).