In order to effectively serve Afghan women as well as achieve excellence in its programs, Zardozi made a third trip to Indonesia to revisit its sisters from PEKKA, a women’s empowerment organization in Indonesia. The trip was mainly arranged for learning purposes between Zardozi Kadars (Volunteer Members) and PEKKA.
In 2016, representatives of PEKKA came to Kabul after Zardozi got introduced to them in 2015 for a knowledge exchange. This year, in April 2019, Zardozi’s leadership team together with two Kadars had another opportunity to observe in-person the approaches PEKKA uses to address women’s problems in their communities. In fact, this exchange program is a useful initiative in achieving Zardozi’s objective to gradually empower Kadars by enabling them to make their own decisions and plan and implement Zardozi’s programs at the grassroots level.
PEKKA is recognized as one of the Japanese Social Development Fund (JSDF) and the World Bank’s best projects. It serves over 25,000 women ‘heads of household’ in more than 800 villages across Indonesia. PEKKA has been active in providing women various programs related to such issues as education, health, and access to justice, livelihood and women’s leadership in the community. The exchange program is a good learning experience for the two organizations as both shares a common ground: empowering disadvantaged women to support themselves financially.
In particular, the trip was a personal achievement for Zardozi volunteer members, the Kadars who are representatives of women in the community. “Who was I and where am I now?” said Ms. Kubra when she returned more committed to help the women of her community. She explained, “When I first began to work, I didn’t have the courage to get out of my home, but today I was not only out of my home but somewhere out of the country in a completely different world.” That was the kind of empowerment Ms. Kubra wants to attain for women in her village.
The takeaway of Salima, another of Zardozi’s Kadars, was that Indonesian and Afghan women encounter similar problems. During her stay, she heard about how a young girl was going to be given into marriage to an older man, but luckily the wedding was stopped by PEKKA’s Kadars, she acknowledged.
“Women over there work very hard and are very inspirational,” shared Salima. She also noted that Indonesian women were less restricted by men in terms of going out of the home, which she thought was a great advantage that a majority of Afghan women don’t have. This has been one of the biggest obstacles for Afghan women to get over.
Talking about lessons learned, Salima noted, “What made PEKKA different was that they had a separate group of Kadars for legal matters called Legal Kadars. We can integrate this into our programs because this group of Kadars was more professional, well-learned and effective in solving legal matters (e.g. divorce) and engaging with government.”
Also, Zardozi regional manager, Ms. Nasreen Sahibzada was fascinated by the hard work and determination of women in Indonesia. The women gave a high percentage of their own savings as loans funds. “This is a very good approach for the self-sustainability of Kadars and clients. PEKKA now has 35,000 women enrolled in the savings groups, and without PEKKA’s or other foreign support, these women will always have their savings to receive loans.”
This knowledge exchange program has not only benefited Zardozi but also PEKKA when they visited Kabul and learned about the different strategies Zardozi used to outreach to women and their families..
On their trip to Kabul, PEKKA representatives were intrigued by Zardozi’s attempts to reach out to and connect with the family members of their clients, through events that celebrate successful women. “Such events appreciate not only women, but also their family members—especially supportive husbands—and this is a very strategic, smart approach in a context where women have lots of restrictions,” said PEKKA’s manager of institutional development Kodar Tri Wusananingsih about celebrating successful women events.
“It helps set a good example for families of other women,” added Wusananingsih.
At the end, the two organizations agreed on a long term commitment and more information sharing sessions in the future.