Women's Empowerment Plan (AF0030)
Action Plan: Afghanistan Action Plan 2019-2021
Action Plan Cycle: 2019
Lead Institution: Ministry of Women Affairs
Support Institution(s): Attorney General Office Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC) The Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC) The Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs (MoHRA) Women related Civil Society Organizations Ministry of Education Ministry of Rural and Rehabilitation Ministry of Agriculture Ministry of Economic Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs Ministry of Health Ministry of Industry and Commerce Women Chamber of Commerce CSOs International Organizations
Policy AreasGender, Marginalized Communities, Public Participation, Sustainable Development Goals
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA) was not effective owing to lack of implementation plan, monitoring and budget. However, that plan had some considerable achievements: From the main 31 indicators in this plan only 8 was fully implemented (Law on Violence Prevention, Establishment of 27 supportive centers and policy incentives). 15 indicators substantially implemented but 8 indicators implemented negligibly.
Nation Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan was not successful due to following reasons:
Lack of proper monitoring system
Lack of allocated budget for this plan
No coordination in the implementation of action plan at the provincial level
Bureaucracy, dispersion and different regulations from the government side
Lack of awareness at ministerial and independent offices from the goals of plan
Lengthiness of the plan
What is the commitment?
Women empowerment plan will be prepared in participation with CSOs and relevant government officials. It will be a comprehensive multi-dimensional plan which entails all relevant aspects of women empowerment. Moreover, this plan is supposed be fully implemented, monitored and evaluated.
How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem?
National plan on women empowerment is a comprehensive plan, consists of budget, implementation and monitoring plans. This plan will be prepared for five-year period with quarter and annual operational plans and particular implementation scrutiny. There will be a ToR for all relevant stakeholders in this plan and authorities will perform their activities with predefined framework. This plan will be comprehensive and Afghanistan-inclusive. Offices in the country will draft their plans on women empowerment on the basis of National Empowerment Plan. It will avoid overlaps, preparing and implementing of unspecified policies in the relevant offices. This plan can also reflect the unfulfilled goals of the national strategy and action plan on combat violence against women. National plan on women empowerment can be used as guidelines framework for donors and balance gender equality in government priorities.
Followings expected from national plan on women empowerment
- Participation of women in the government leadership and key positions will increase
- All legal documents shall be complied into a uniformed document
- Single and uniform mechanism for the implementation of women affairs programs in Afghanistan
This plan includes 12 sub-indicators as followings:
- Specify indicators to develop new values, spread and strengthen them in association with ministry of culture
- Specify indicators for gender equality issues in the educational curriculum at school level
- Specify indicators for monitoring and evaluation of activities in the offices as per their programs
- Specify indicators to bring change in the recruitment system and apply these changes across the country
- Specify indicators for the presence of women in decision making in the economic, political, social and cultural sectors.
- Specify indicators to enable women to receive education within Afghanistan and outside the country
- Specify indicators for a safe working environment for women in public and private sectors.
- Plan for the expansion of harassment prevention committee in the offices
- Plan for women capacity building in the field of information technology and its implementation in 10 provinces
Moreover, the followings can considered in case of need;
1- Policy for women inheritance ownership
2- Strengthen women participation in election
3- Partnership development program Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
National plan on women empowerment is prepared in participation with relevant government offices, and CSOs it ensures civic participation. Moreover, CSOs monitor the implementation of plan which increases accountability and transparency.
Policy on Supporting Women in War and Emergency Situations
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, on women, peace, and security;
Sustainable Development Goals (SDG);
Law on Prevention of Violence Against Women;
National Strategy and Action Plan on Combatting Violence Against Women.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
17. National Plan on Women Empowerment
Women empowerment plan will be prepared in participation with CSOs and relevant government officials. It will be a comprehensive multi-dimensional plan which entails all relevant aspects of women empowerment. Moreover, this plan is supposed be fully implemented, monitored, and evaluated.
National Plan on Women Empowerment is a comprehensive plan, consists of budget, implementation, and monitoring plans. This plan will be prepared for five-year period with quarter and annual operational plans and particular implementation scrutiny. There will be a TOR for all relevant stakeholders in this plan and authorities will perform their activities with predefined framework. This plan will be comprehensive and Afghanistan-inclusive. Offices in the country will draft their plans on women empowerment on the basis of National Empowerment Plan. It will avoid overlaps, preparing, and implementing of unspecified policies in the relevant offices. This plan can also reflect the unfulfilled goals of the National Strategy and Action Plan on Combat Violence against Women. National Plan on Women Empowerment can be used as guidelines framework for donors and balance gender equality in government priorities.
Followings expected from National Plan on Women Empowerment:
- Participation of women in the government leadership and key positions will increase.
- All legal documents shall be complied into a uniformed document.
- Single and uniform mechanism for the implementation of women affairs programs in Afghanistan.
This plan includes 12 sub-indicators as follows:
- Specify indicators to develop new values, spread, and strengthen them in association with Ministry of Culture.
- Specify indicators for gender equality issues in the educational curriculum at school level.
- Specify indicators for monitoring and evaluation of activities in the offices as per their programs.
- Specify indicators to bring change in the recruitment system and apply these changes across the country.
- Specify indicators for the presence of women in decision making in the economic, political, social, and cultural sectors.
- Specify indicators to enable women to receive education within Afghanistan and outside the country.
- Specify indicators for a safe working environment for women in public and private sectors.
- Plan for the expansion of harassment prevention committee in the offices.
- Plan for women capacity building in the field of information technology and its implementation in 10 provinces.
Moreover, the followings can be considered in case of need:
- Policy for women inheritance ownership.
- Strengthen women participation in election.
- Partnership development program.
- Establishing a joint committee of Ministry of Women and CSOs for National Women Empowerment Plan.
- Identifying the challenges, risks, and vulnerabilities in implementation of women plans, policies, procedures, and laws related to women empowerment.
- Prepare draft of Five-Year Women Empowerment Plan (budget, implementation, and monitoring) and its yearly breakdown.
- Identifying indicators and expected results of Plan implementation (quarterly and annually).
- Approval of Plan in the Gender Committee of Cabinet and Cabinet of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
- Monitoring and evaluation of implementation of Plan based on indicators and expected results (quarterly and annually) and publishing of its report.
Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Afghanistan’s action plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Afghanistan_Action-Plan_2019-2021_EN.pdf.
IRM Design Report Assessment
Access to Information, Civic Participation
This commitment aims to develop a comprehensive plan in support of women’s empowerment initiatives in Afghanistan. The plan would cover the allocation of budget, program implementation, and subsequent monitoring of women’s empowerment initiatives over a five-year period. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs will lead the implementation of this commitment, in collaboration with civil society stakeholders.
In 2007, the government launched the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA).  The plan served as the national policy to guide the women’s empowerment and gender equality agendas for the following 10 years. It was widely viewed as Afghanistan’s primary vehicle for the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as the Beijing Platform for Action.  NAPWA consisted of 31 indicators relating to key areas such as 1) security, 2) legal protection and human rights, 3) leadership and political participation, 4) economy, work, and poverty, 5) health, and 6) education. 
At the time of NAPWA’s launch, Afghanistan was still in the early stages of economic and political recovery, following the fall of the Taliban regime. The plan confirmed that many problems disproportionately affected women, including low life expectancy,  underage marriage,  lack of access to education,  systemic discrimination,  and poverty . However, by 2017, at the end of 10 years of implementation, NAPWA had achieved only moderate results in establishing a foundation for gender equality and empowerment efforts.  Across its 31 indicators, the plan led to particularly limited improvements in the categories of economy, poverty, and work, and security. 
Government and civil society stakeholders attribute NAPWA’s limited implementation to many factors: Those factors include a lack of political will, design failures, insufficient implementation capacity, a lack of data, ineffective gender mainstreaming mechanisms, limited budgets and resources, and unclear definitions of roles and responsibilities. 
A comprehensive assessment by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), for instance, found that the lack of ownership over implementation of the plan and a generally limited understanding of gender mainstreaming compounded the failure of the action plan to achieve substantial results.  In addition, a representative from the Institute of Human Rights Training for the Women of Afghanistan noted that NAPWA was developed by international consultants without a proper understanding of the local context in Afghanistan.  According to this representative, the plan failed to consider the real economic, social, political, and contextual needs of women in Afghanistan, who have their own cultural, religious, and traditional values. 
The findings on the adverse impact of a lack of ownership were echoed by a Ministry of Women’s Affairs representative. In an interview with the IRM researchers, the representative noted that NAPWA was meant to be implemented by different ministries under the Ministry of Women’s Affairs’s coordination.  However, this did not go as planned due to a prevailing misconception that the ministry alone was responsible for NAPWA.  Further exacerbated by the absence of effective monitoring, the lack of ownership persisted throughout the action plan’s 10-year implementation period.
Upon completion of the implementation period, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs conducted a thorough assessment in partnership with the USAID Promote project in 2019. Through this process, the ministry collected public input on what worked and what did not with NAPWA, as well as suggestions for next steps. 
In implementing this commitment, the ministry will take an active role in developing the National Plan on Women Empowerment, including strong elements of public participation. The process will involve civil society organizations, particularly representatives of the Afghan Women’s Network in many provinces, as well as women leaders in different sectors. The new action plan will be implemented over a five-year period and cover key areas of governance that significantly impact women and other similarly vulnerable groups in Afghanistan. Drawing on lessons learned from the implementation of NAPWA, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs expects to better perform its coordination role and guide the implementation of the National Plan on Women Empowerment by all ministries and other government offices.
This commitment is relevant to the OGP values of civic participation and access to information. It supports public participation in the development of the women’s empowerment plan and entails the publication of plan implementation reports.
If fully implemented as written, the commitment is expected to result in a moderate potential impact on the empowerment of women in Afghanistan. By incorporating aspects of public participation and adopting a localized and stakeholder-centric approach to identifying priorities to be included in the plan, the ministry has taken important lessons from the shortcomings of NAPWA. In doing so, the ministry has fostered conditions for stronger contextual understanding and ownership of the plan implementation process.
Importantly, if implemented effectively, the plan stands to facilitate greater and more meaningful participation of women in decision making across the political, social, cultural, and economic spheres. Despite preexisting gains, there are specific sub-indicators of the proposed plan that could lead to gains in the empowerment of women. Those include the proposition to introduce gender equality in the school curriculum, strengthen women’s political participation, build women’s capacity in the use of information technology, and develop a policy for women’s inheritance. By creating opportunities for women to actively participate in public life and determine their involvement in these key areas, the plan stands to produce major improvements in the rights of women.
Although there have been improvements in women’s rights over time, women in Afghanistan continue to face diverse and significant challenges. An inability to actively participate in public life and influence the decisions that affect them exacerbate these challenges. Crucially, for example, women are still sidelined from political life and are often overlooked in the appointment of high-ranking government positions.  If effectively implemented, the new National Plan on Women Empowerment could help the government better respond to the challenges faced by women and address them in ways that reflect the real needs and priorities of women.
However, noting issues around the implementation of plans such as NAPWA in the past, the core reliance of this plan on effective implementation—and the failure to provide specific direction in this regard—limits the scope of this commitment. The commitment does not, among other key omissions, specify measures to raise public awareness about the plan, or build capacity or train officials on how to operationalize the plan. It also does not provide opportunities for the public to hold the government accountable for the implementation of the plan, through, for example, a public-facing feedback and complaints mechanism.
The Women Grand Council, proposed through Commitment 18, could be viewed alongside this commitment and considered a platform through which the implementation of this plan can be monitored. However, this council is riddled with limitations. These include a reliance on the president’s leadership, lack of a clearly defined redress mechanism, and generally limited space for civic participation on the council.
Going forward, the IRM researchers recommend that stakeholders involved in implementing the plan explore the opportunity for synergy between the commitments and strengthen the council with independent representation. The council could then serve as a transparent, participatory, and accountable platform to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the women’s empowerment plan.
Generally, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs is encouraged to take measures to ensure that the aspirations of the plan come to fruition through effective implementation. This may include, for instance, establishing a binding mechanism for government offices at all levels to meet, or strive to achieve, the requirements and indicators of the National Plan on Women Empowerment. That action will be further benefited by efforts to clearly align the components of the plan with core mandates of the various government offices.
Noting the importance of ownership of the plan in achieving positive outcomes, the ministry could also establish a multistakeholder process similar to that of OGP Afghanistan. Each government office would be represented and actively involved in an iterative decision-making process throughout both the development and implementation of the action plan.
Revise Law on Recruitment and Authority of Attorneys General
AF0014, 2019, Access to Justice
Revise Law on Local Government
AF0015, 2019, Legislation & Regulation
Establish Anti-Corruption Commission
AF0016, 2019, Anti-Corruption
Draft Beneficial Ownership Legislation
AF0017, 2019, Anti-Corruption
Portal for Processing Legislative Documents
AF0018, 2019, Capacity Building
CSO Monitoring of Education
AF0019, 2019, E-Government
Develop Electronic Complaint System for Local Government
AF0020, 2019, Capacity Building
Reform and Strengthen Education Data
AF0021, 2019, Access to Information
Participation in Local Budgeting
AF0022, 2019, Fiscal Openness
Electronic Revenue Collection System
AF0023, 2019, Capacity Building
Co-Create University Curriculum
AF0024, 2019, Education
Reform Promotion System for Police Officers
AF0025, 2019, E-Government
Monitoring Framework for Medicine Wholesalers
AF0026, 2019, E-Government
Monitoring of Private and Public Health Centers
AF0027, 2019, E-Government
Participation in National Budget
AF0028, 2019, Fiscal Openness
Open Justice for Anti-Corruption
AF0029, 2019, Access to Justice
Women's Empowerment Plan
AF0030, 2019, Gender
Establishment of Women Grand Council
AF0031, 2019, Gender
Law on Processing, Publishing and Enforcing Legislative Documents
AF0002, 2017, Legislation & Regulation
Courts to Address Violence Against Women
AF0003, 2017, Access to Justice
Public-Police Partnership Councils
AF0004, 2017, Capacity Building
Registering Assets of Government Officials
AF0005, 2017, Anti-Corruption
Scheme for Establishing Health Service Accreditation Entity
AF0006, 2017, Capacity Building
Urban Improvement National Policy
AF0007, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport
Protection Policy for Women Under Conflict and Emergency Situations
AF0008, 2017, Fiscal Openness
Civil Society Monitoring Plan for Education and Higher Education
AF0009, 2017, Education
Plan for the Establishment of a Joint Committee Overseeing the Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy
AF0010, 2017, Anti-Corruption
Strengthen the Information Mechanism in 60 Governmental Agencies
AF0011, 2017, Access to Information
Implementing Open Contracting
AF0012, 2017, Access to Information
Public Participation in Road Network Projects
AF0013, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport
Mechanism of Public Partnership in Inspection Process
AF0001, 2017, Anti-Corruption