How have women been empowered by gender-focussed development projects in post-Taliban Afghanistan? : reviewing the literature which incorporates the critical consideration of two gender focussed development projects : a research report presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of International Development in Development Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
This research report examines the empowerment approach within the Gender and Development (GAD) discussion, providing an emphasis on women’s empowerment as an instrument of post-conflict reconstruction in post-Taliban Afghanistan. Utilising a comprehensive literature review, the report establishes the framework of Naila Kabeer as a consistent base for the comparing and contrasting of two gender-focussed development programmes in Afghanistan. The contextual background of empowerment programmes pursued over the past decade in Afghanistan are presented with an examination of the challenges and opportunities encountered pursuing women’s political, economic, social and psychological empowerment. A specific consideration of the New Zealand-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan Province, Afghanistan, and the Community Development Council initiative within the Afghanistan National Solidarity Programme is undertaken. The report concludes that while there have been enormous symbolic advances for women’s political empowerment in the national sphere, the more private and local the sphere examined: the less decision-making agency Afghani women are empowered to exercise. While seeking to provide opportunities for women’s economic empowerment the programmes have made little practical change to women’s income or financial agency. The two gender-focussed programmes examined have made significant compromises to the extremities of the local context, and are considered ‘gender accommodating’ rather than ‘gender transformative’. The large body of literature concerning Afghanistan substantiates that the road to gender equity will stretch across the generations and is necessarily gradual to remain sustainable. As Afghanistan enters further political turmoil, the empowerment attained by Afghani women in the past decade must be expressly guarded.