OPAWC (Organization of Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities) was established in 2003 by a group of women eager to do something proactive, concrete and achievable to empower Afghan women. They volunteered their time and expertise to affect lives as soon as possible while building a framework for long term, sustainable opportunities for women to escape the vicious cycle of dependence and victimization in a male dominated and fundamentalist social structure. On three fronts they knew they had to simultaneously act: literacy, practical wage earning skills and health. They realized that if a significant number of women could have access to these basic human rights they could have a foothold on the journey to achieve their constitutional right of equality and even address areas of redress yet to be written into law.
Since OPAWC’s inception hundreds of literacy classes were organized across the country from back rooms to schoolrooms, wherever women could meet, safe from the forces that would stop their pursuit of knowledge. Income-generating projects such as poultry farms, tailoring, carpet weaving and handicrafts were established, programs that do not require a high level of education and training but effectively put women in a position to earn wages, a powerful asset in a country where the average wage of a man hovers around $400 a year. Health projects were initiated such as the Hamoon Clinic in Farah and their mobile health teams that could deliver much needed care to remote areas where the simplest level of support (such as assisting a woman in labor) can save lives.
Other activities include the establishment of orphanages and schools at refugee camps in Pakistan, participation in events such as the International Women’s Day on March 8th of this year, and reconstruction projects such as power supply to villages in Dara-e-Noor. OPAWC even got involved in supporting the archeological project in Shewa district of Nangarhar. Along the way women continue to be encouraged to speak out for their rights, to stand before a crowd and inform the public of their plight and their mission to become productive, contributing, equal members of a civil society.
OPAWC continues to search for creative and diverse ways to build a future for the women of Afghanistan. Through the three-pronged approach of education, economic opportunity and health, a real and irreversible foundation will be built.