Foreign Minister Antony Blinken launched the Alliance for Afghan Women’s Economic Resilience (AWER) on September 20 on the fringes of the UN General Assembly. AWER is a new public-private partnership between the Department of State and Boston University aimed at fostering business, philanthropic and civic engagement to advance entrepreneurship, employment and educational opportunities for Afghan women in Afghanistan and third countries.
In his speech, Minister Blinken highlighted AWER’s first initiative, the Million Women Mentors Initiative for Afghan Women and Girls (MWMA), which aims to accelerate private sector and civil society engagement to reach one million women over the next five years and take care of girls. As an example of how AWER aims to advance economic opportunities for Afghan women and girls, he cited Deloitte’s commitment to work with the Alliance’s first member country to mentor 2,000 Afghan women through MWMA.
This announcement follows an additional $1.5 million in State Department funding for these efforts, including funding from the Gender Justice and Equality Action Fund, which supports economic security for women and girls worldwide to improve access for Afghan women to start businesses and improve partnerships with the private sector.
The launch event brought together leaders from the private sector, civil society, US and foreign governments, and Afghan women entrepreneurs and business leaders. It included a panel discussion on public-private opportunities to improve Afghan women’s economic security. Panelists included: HRH Princess Sarah Zeid, Maternal and Child Health Advocate; Fereshteh Forough, CEO, Code to Inspire; Ayesha Hashem, Public Policy Manager, South Asia, Meta; Manizha Wafeq, co-founder of the Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Nell Todd, Managing Director, Deloitte Consulting LLP. Other speakers at the event included Katrina Fotovat, Senior Official at the Secretariat for Global Women’s Issues, Rina Amiri, Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls and Human Rights, and Thomas West, Special Envoy for Afghanistan.
AWER creates a pathway to develop sustainable, market-driven solutions for Afghan women’s economic security and underscores the United States’ strong commitment to Afghan women and girls.