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07 December 2012

Expert Laure Saporta about the evaluation in Afghanistan (2009-2013): "Knowledge trough the snowball effect"

Expert Laure Saporta visited Afghanistan in November 2012 as Evaluator on behalf of medica mondiale. Her task was the final assessment of the project "Social Support and Legal Help for Women threatened by violence, or imprisoned, and their children". The findings are being implemented by two local organisations: Medica Afghanistan and Women for Afghan Women (WAW). The expert Laure Saporta talked about her work in Afghanistan to Katharina Hirth, from medica mondiale.

How would you describe the project? What do the local employees do?

The project has three main components: First – legal and  social advice for women. Then, there is the Child Support Centre. This was set up for the children of imprisoned mothers, unable to look after them. It offers them a home and access to education. And finally, making society aware of and sensitive to the rights of women.

Who benefits from the offers?

The measures are primarily aimed at girls or women who have personally experienced violence. This makes the "snowball effect" very important for me. When a woman knows that she has rights, she shares this information with family members, neighbors and other women. This creates a ripple effect. Civil servants, Mullahs – islamic and legal scholars – or members of other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are trained by personnel from Medica Afghanistan or Women for Afghan Women. The general public is also included through media reports on radio and tv.

What are the exact goals of the project?

One goal is to offer social and legal support to women and girls affected by violence, abuse or denial of their legal rights. A further aim is to sensitise the society to the issue of women’s rights.

Your job as assessor is to decide if the aims of the project have been achieved. How do you do this?

It is only as small part of my task to decide if the goals have been reached. I view the project as an outsider, in order to pass on suggestions for improvements. Together with the teams, I then seek ways of improving weak areas and promoting strengths.

Where do you get the necessary information?

I talked to as many people as possible in a short space of time. Equally important, I observed how the employees interacted with the clients. I saw how mediation talks were handled, how legal advice was given, and how the staff in the Child Support Centre acted with the children.

Who did you speak to locally?

Firstly, I spoke with the teams from Medica Afghanistan and WAW. They have direct contact with the clients, and are better informed about the women’s needs and any existing gaps. And naturally, I talked with the clients and sometimes to the families. Last but not least, I spoke to influential groups in society such as the Justice Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Ministry for Women’s Affairs, mullahs and NGOs who dealt with clients referred by Medica Afghanistan or WAW.

In your opinion, have the goals been achieved?

Yes, absolutely. In my opinion, it has been a successful project. It has played an important and significant role in supporting women and girls. For many young girls, it was the first time they had become aware that they even had rights and that they could fight for them. And society in general has been sensitized to the fact of women’s rights. As a result, it has been possible to implement these rights.

How do you assess the durability of the project? Will it have a lasting effect?

On the whole the project is long-lasting. Financial sustainability has not yet been guaranteed, because the social and legal advice are offered free of charge for all girls and women. The institutional sustainability on the other hand is very strong. Because of effective support from medica mondiale, Medica Afghanistan has become independent and autonomous.

Has the project helped change the lives of Afghan women and girls?

Many women considered it normal to be hit by their husbands. Through contact to Medica Afghanistan or WAW, they have suddenly understood : it doesn’t have to be like that. There is no law which gives the husband the right to beat his wife! This knowledge has been sufficient to change the lives of many women.

 

Here you will find a summary of the most important evaluation results.

Read more about other evaluations of medica mondiale.