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Breaking gender stereotypes: A Case Story of Amina in Bamyan Province

Community introduction:

Doab Chapdara is located 12 KM from west of Bamyan center with 370 families comprising of 2590 people. The Majority work on their agriculture lands and rear livestock. The village has high level of disaster risk from the floods; it also has high incidence of plant diseases.

Background of Project Activity:

ActionAid Afghanistan, under SRACAD (Strengthening the Resilience of Afghanistan Communities against Disasters) project provided 30,000 non- fruit trees in three districts: Yakawlang, Bamyan and Panjab. About 20 people including one woman benefitted from this program. This was no small an achievement. The benefit which will enable a woman to farm her land was something which never happened in the community thus far. Based on an assessment survey, every beneficiary, including Amina received 1500 non -fruit trees in 2016 to develop orchards. 

Amina’s Journey to empowerment

Amina with her husband lives in an extended family with her children and grandchildren. A confident CDMC (Community Disaster Management Committee) member, she heads 7 CDC (Community Development Councils) in Saddat velley and has received various trainings organized by ActionAid in relation to Disaster Risk Reduction. Notably, as explained above, she has now the distinction of becoming first woman who received 1500 non fruit trees from livelihood support program and has developed a non-fruit orchard on her land.  

Amina’s life was not easy enough in the past; her village is often affected by floods and that is the reason majority of people including she and her family moved from the valley to top of the hill. The water storage unit on the hill top that the community constructed created another disaster as the water would overflow in the nearby agricultural canal and flood it when there are incidences of rock fall. Since there were not trees surrounding the canal, Amina cleaned the canal every time it flooded.

After receiving and planting the trees, Amina says her life has become easier. She and other people in the community use the canal water to irrigate the land and the trees they planted. Amina managed the plantation with the support of the labour she hired for the job. She says “it was the first opportunity for me to supervise the labour I hired, and that has given me added confidence that I can successfully manage this orchard.”

Amina further added “thanks to the trainings she received from ActionAid she is well aware of the importance of tree planting. I also understand the criteria for receiving the trees for plantation, i.e., access to agriculture land, access to irrigation water, vulnerability from floods and lack of specific income. I am not aware of exactly how many other women meet the criteria for claiming their entitlements, but I am confident that I will be able to help in collecting information of women who meet the criteria and can benefit from the activities in future”.

Amina is aware of the benefits community has received on the whole as the orchards will make the entire village has become green; there is less pollution, and also the occurrence and  intensity of the floods have decreased. Amina is also aware of the fact that for most women it is difficult to meet the criteria of ownership of land and accessibility of water to get benefit from the project activity. She, however, is hopeful that with the support of ActionAid, her community will evolve some strategies which benefit majority of the women, with or without land.

The biggest change that has happened after she received and created her orchard is in relation to the transformation in the attitudes of the community. Prior to this intervention which benefitted her, it was considered inappropriate for a woman to work in agricultural lands. However, after she managed to develop her orchard, the community resistance for women who work on the agricultural land has weakened. Other women now take her as their role model and started taking initiatives to develop their own home gardens. Inspired by Amina, her neighbor Zarghona has invested her saving for starting her home garden in which she has planted trees, and vegetables.

Amina says “As the community has seen that a woman can successfully manage her own orchard, many women in the village are coming forward and showing interest in planting the trees”.

Amina plans to plant more trees and have her own nursery for selling seedling of the trees to augment her income as well as generate employment opportunities for other women. She says the additional income will improve the living standards and overall wellbeing of her family including meeting the expenses for her grand children’s education.