CEDAR’s partner in Afghanistan set up women self-help group for marginalised women. Besides savings, the members also learn about about health and hygiene
Afghanistan is one of the most challenging places for women to live deemed by human rights organisations.
The bodies of women are conceived as culturally obscene. A grown woman must wear a head cover, and in traditional families, a burqa, covering them from head to toe and leaving them just a tiny mesh screen to see the outside world.
Even the names of women are disapproved of, it is a disgrace for men to call their wives by their name; hence, the wives are addressed as “someone’s mother/daughter”, “my chicken”, or “my goat”. Women’s names are not even allowed to be written on their gravestones. 
Female victims of sexual assault are seen as the shame of their family and society. As a matter of fact, a lot of them underwent degrading and painful virginity tests, and in extreme cases, became victims of “honor killings”.
CEDAR’s partner in Afghanistan serves marginalised women by providing extensive training such as livelihood support, literacy, agriculture training, health education, water supply, vocational training, conflict resolution, disaster prevention, bee farming, livestock management, children rights advocacy, and sewing class. They have established 25 women self-help groups in rural villages close to the capital, Kabul, to rebuild the women’s confidence and sense of self-worth.
As a result, members of the groups successfully implemented their saving plans in their families and boosted their husbands’ confidence in letting them having more say in the family. An increasing number of husbands, who in the past restricted their wives from attending social gatherings except weddings and funerals, now allowed their wives to take part in the self-help groups.
There have been great improvements to the lives of women, especially to the marginalised ones, where some of them were eventually able to directly communicate with the local councils and the city government to positively influence the priorities of resource allocations and constructing small infrastructures.
“Men meet in mosques to talk and solve problems, and women could do that in self-help groups. This platform is very importance to us,” says one of the participants.
During the biblical times, women were also stigmatised by harmful traditions. Infertility was one of the most condemned weakness of women. However, the Lord did not forsake these marginalised women, but showed mercy on them and removed their shame, such as in the case of Sarah, Hannah, Rebecca, and Elizabeth. The project is doing the same by empowering Afghan women and restoring their dignity and personal value via a holistic approach.
We believe that the Afghan women were so created in the wonderful image of God. Let us be inspired by Hannah’s prayer and cry out for the help of our Lord and pray for His mercy upon the women living under shame and oppression.
Then Hannah prayed and said:
“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
in the Lord my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
He seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.”
(1 Samuel 2:1, 8a)
Please pray for the following items:
- Pray for Afghanistan: Frequent terrorist attacks, violent bomb explosions, deep-rooted corruption, devastating poverty, and extreme gender inequality have strangled the Afghans with sin and fear. Pray for God’s deliverance to those suffering.
- Pray for the women self-help groups: Pray that the Lord would watch over and guide their participation, through which their lives could be turned around and become the light and salt of their families and communities. Pray that they would reestablish their self-worth in the knowledge that they are created in God’s image with gifted talents.