USAID to help 900 Afghan women pursue higher studies
KABUL (Pajhwok): The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Wednesday pledged $15 million in aid to help 900 Afghan women continue their higher education in Afghanistan’s private universities.
Michael Raynor, charge de’affairs at the US Embassy in Kabul, told a meeting here that 720 Afghan women would be facilitated to complete bachelor’s degrees in Afghanistan.
He said another 180 women would be assisted to follow their master’s degrees in regional countries.
He said the program was part of the USAID’s previous commitments to develop women’s capacity.
The $15 million aid would be provided through the Promote Scholarship Program that helps hundreds of Afghans to pursue their higher education. The program would be implemented through Asia Foundation, he added.
USAID launched the Promote program in 2014, pledging $216 million for providing opportunities to Afghan women to work in government offices, private sector and civil society.
Abdullah Ahmadzai, a representative of the Asia Foundation in Afghanistan, said that the foundation would promote 900 Afghan women across Afghanistan over the next five years.
He said 270 women would start their bachelor’s degree education this year and 180 others their master’s degree next year.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who was also present in the meeting, welcomed the launch of the USAID-funded program and said education was the foundation of peace, stability and development of a society.
He said the situation of Afghan women had significantly improved during the past 14 years. Abdullah thanked USAID for supporting Afghanistan and said the organization was cooperating with Afghanistan in different areas.
In a statement, USIAD said besides Abdullah and Raynor, Higher Education Miniser Dr. Farida Momand, Women’s Affairs Minister Delbar Nazari, Minister of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled Nasreen Oryakhail and USAID Mission Director Herbert Smith launched the Promote Scholarship Program at the US Embassy.
The recipients of the Promote Scholarship, in turn, are expected to contribute to creating an environment that fosters women’s empowerment, the agency said.
It said Promote will work closely with the Afghan MoHE to select the scholarship recipients based on their Kankor exam scores, and to support students that demonstrate strong academic potential but are unable to pursue university education due to inadequate funds.
“It is time to thank the United States for their generosity and sacrifice to make those changes possible for the citizens of Afghanistan in making the future brighter for the new generations,” said Abdullah.
“This is a celebration, demonstrating the continuation of the US Government’s strategic investment in women’s empowerment, and giving us hope and opportunity for advancement and personal enrichment, and for the advancement of Afghan women,” said Raynor.
“Providing access to education…in all provinces…opens the door wider to develop and empower women with the necessary skills to serve as true change agents in their communities,” said Ahmadzai from the Asia Foundation.
In November 2014, USAID/Afghanistan launched the Promote program to advance opportunities for Afghan women who can become political, private sector, and civil society leaders.
Over the next five years, USAID Promote will provide up to 75,000 educated women with the skills and support they need to excel in their chosen fields, to become leaders in their communities and society, and to maximize their contribution to Afghanistan’s continued development.
With more than $17 billion spent on development programs in Afghanistan since 2002, USAID provides the largest bilateral civilian assistance program to Afghanistan.
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