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Women living in the Chagcharan district of Ghor province in Afghanistan have witnessed three decades of war and conflict, just like the other parts of the country. With a long history of natural disaster and acute poverty in the region, lack of health clinics and services add to the misery of women living in an extremely unequal society. Women and children frequently suffer from sickness as they know and practice little about personal hygiene.

Our two-year programme, building awareness and knowledge about sanitation and personal hygiene (WASPH), implemented by Skills Trainings and Rehabilitation Society (STARS) is one such programme where we are improving livelihoods and creating sustainable employment opportunities.

The programme provides training to 140 women on making and marketing sanitary products as well as education on basic health and hygiene. 

Afghan women making sanitary products

STARS mobilised four mullahs (religious leaders) in favour of women receiving training on health and hygiene as these communities are heavily influenced by the religious leaders. Men from the communities were also mobilised to ensure women’s participation. The participants also received hygiene kits for personal use, and sewing machines.

The majority of the women participating in the programme were learning about personal hygiene for the first time. Previously, women and adolescent girls suffered menstruation-related diseases and discomfort. Self-help groups developed under this programme are helping women discuss their newly gained knowledge with each other. 

Gul Hawas, a participant in the programme says, “Now I understand why my daughters suffered from pain. They used to re-use the same clothes during menstruation and often complained of pain and inflammation. Since receiving training from STARS, they are using the sanitary products and maintaining their hygiene. Girls have not complained about pain, and it has become a source of income for us.” added Gul.

Though selling is still limited to relatives and neighbours; STARS is exploring market opportunities to sell them to provide sustained employment. However, disposal of used products is still a challenge, so in the near future, STARS will start awareness activities for women about this.

For more information about our programmes, visit our work in Afghanistan