This brief provides a summary of the findings from exploratory research examining the social inclusion of women in subnational governance in Afghanistan, with a focus on informal and semi-formal governance bodies and processes.
The research sought to identify which groups, positions, mechanisms, and sectors are currently providing opportunities for women’s participation and influence in subnational governance. It also explored how women’s participation and influence may be changing, along with the key obstructing and enabling factors that impact that process.
An interesting finding is that there are community-based women’s groups at a local level and women in political positions or larger CSOs at higher levels, but less opportunity for leadership mobility for women from local level women’s groups to the higher level, along with less interaction and connectedness between women and women’s groups at different levels. One of the reasons for the reduced mobility of women from local to higher governance levels is that declining security makes it harder for women to take up roles that may have been previously open to them.
The research then points to a set of promising pathways that have the potential for enabling women’s increased voice in subnational governance in Afghanistan. Among the most prominent is supporting community-based women’s groups that provide women-only safe spaces for solidarity, participation and collective action. Next to that, supporting women’s groups to take on community service projects or local initiatives, and intentionally engaging women leaders who have a unique status in their communities, can also be effective interventions for increasing the support for women’s public participation.
The brief concludes by offering a set of recommendations for donors, practitioners, civil society and governments.
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