Breaking outside the boundaries of the home
With funding support from the European Union, UNICEF provides vocational training to adolescent girls in Afghanistan
DAIKUNDI, AFGHANISTAN – For centuries, Afghans have migrated internally and across international borders in pursuit of opportunities.
Unfortunately, many of these migrants are often children and young people. These “children on the move” risk violence, exploitation and abuse while traveling, and when they return, they often struggle to reintegrate into their families and communities. Between 2016 and 2021, UNICEF helped reunify over 19,500 unaccompanied minors who passed through various border points out of Afghanistan.
With funding from the European Union, UNICEF provides educational and vocational opportunities for children and young people at risk of migration in Afghanistan.
For 15 girls in Shish Village in central Afghanistan, this means a whole new world of opportunities for their futures. This month, these girls proudly graduated from their tailoring programme, gaining a host of new skills and empowering their financial independence.
“I want to open my own business, but not in this community – in Nili,” says Binazer, 20.
Nili is the larger regional town in Daikundi Province, offering a wider client base and more opportunities to thrive than in tiny Shish Village where Binazer grew up.
Shy but lively when you probe her, Binazer is elated that she has new skills to show off and forge a path for herself.
“When I first began this programme, I did not know anything about tailoring, but now I can do anything for my clients.”
“I can explain it to you! To make a dress, first you have to take measurements, then you make the neckline and move on to the sleeves…”
“Now I can make clothes, and I even know how to repair this sewing machine,” says Faiza, 17.
UNICEF supports 10 vocational training centres across 10 districts in Daikundi Province. Each centre teaches a different vocation and caters to about 15 young girls each.
The girls who enrol are identified by their communities. They are often considered at risk of migration, school drop-out, or other factors that may derail their futures.
After completing her vocational training, 19-year-old Sediqa and her peer graduates received toolkits for starting a small business, including 15,000 Afghani in startup funds, plus business development training on marketing, sales and client relations.
“I want to start my own business. I want to have my own shop and a lot of clients,” she says.
“With this training, I became motivated and understood that girls can work outside the home. I used to think that all of my life was defined by the boundary of the home.”
“At first I had no skills, but now I can do tailoring and support my family financially.”
Attending the graduation ceremony clad in one of the young group’s tailoring creations, one of Shish Village’s elders noted the vocational training has benefits for the community as well as the girls.
“This programme provides income and fulfills community needs, like clothing repairs. Now we have many skilled tailors in Shish Village. We used to travel to Nili to buy and repair clothes, but now we save on transportation costs because we have those skills right here in the community.”
Besides new skills and financial independence, some of the girls found other benefits in the daily training programme.
“The advantages of this programme, besides the fact that I learned how to sew," says Fatima, 18, "are that I found a great role model in our teacher, and I was able to meet the other girls and socialize with them.”
“I went through grade 6 but I was not able to finish my education. This tailoring program was a great opportunity for me because I learned skills and could continue my education.”
To support other young people and prevent migration of children and youth, over 155,000 community members since May 2018 – including young people themselves – have participated in community dialogues.
With the ongoing support of funding from the European Union, UNICEF will continue to support children on the move and those at risk. These programmes will help address the underlying issues facing families suffering economic crisis, preventing children from leaving school to seek work, and discouraging child marriage or child labour.
UNICEF will assist families and youth by supporting economic opportunities like these vocational training programme in Daikundi Province, helping to stop dangerous child migration before it even starts.