UNHCR - Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

07/09/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/09/2024 08:02

Des femmes malvoyantes retrouvent l'espoir dans l'est de l'Afghanistan

A l'intérieur d'une petite salle de classe improvisée dans un village de la province de Nangahar, dans l'est de l'Afghanistan, un groupe de jeunes femmes aveugles est réuni pour un cours de communication. Isolées socialement et souvent victimes d'abus physiques et psychologiques, les femmes malvoyantes en Afghanistan passent la majeure partie de leur vie à l'abri des regards, sans pouvoir aller à l'école, apprendre à vivre normalement ou fonder une famille.

But in this classroom - and others like it set up by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and its partner WADAN, the Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan, in two neighbouring provinces - the women come together, socialize, listen to each other's experiences and learn new skills to help them navigate the world and thrive in it, gaining self-confidence and independence.

"I have faced a lot of challenges being blind," said 22-year-old Arezo, who lives in the provincial capital Jalalabad and attends the Visually Impaired Women Support Programme in Samarkhel. "While others with sight could attend school, I was left behind." Now, at last, she is catching up.

Arezo is one of 90 visually impaired students who enrolled in the programme in late 2022 and has since learned to read Braille and do basic maths, use a guide cane to walk around safely and carry out domestic chores such as cooking and washing, which enables them to contribute to family life. The programme's success means it is this month being expanded to reach a further 200 women, with the hope that additional funding might make it accessible to men, girls and boys in the future.

© UNHCR

Practical skills, psychological support

Beyond practical day-to-day skills, the training programme also includes psychosocial counselling and sessions on gender-based violence to equip the women to manage in a society in which visually impaired women are frequently met with stigma and hostility.

Some of the women, such as Arezo, are also learning communication skills, hoping it might lead to previously unattainable job opportunities. For Arezo, it has meant the rare chance to continue learning and to improve her reading and writing skills. "We have been learning essential skills for effective interaction, including how to communicate with others, report information accurately, and even deliver impactful seminars," she said.