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03 March 2009

Training Manual: Taking action against violence in Afghanistan

Gurcharan Virdee, a medica mondiale employee, summarized her experiences from five years of work in Afghanistan in an up-to-date training manual. The manual includes training modules for activists as well as for employees from organizations and institutions. The topics covered include: women-oriented counseling, family mediation and cooperation.

Training Manual – Taking Action on Violence Against Women in the Afghan Context, Author: Gurcharan Virdee.  

This training manual has been developed with the aim of increasing the number of women who are qualified trainers or group facilitators, women’s rights activists and caseworkers, and to enable these women to work on women’s rights and against VAW, especially in the provinces of Afghanistan. The indirect beneficiaries are mainly Afghan women and young girls at risk. This manual is different in that it addresses issues of how to train women who are both literate and illiterate, challenging as this might be.

Whilst the training manual is written with Afghanistan in mind, it can also be appropriately applied to other national contexts or where similar kinds of issues are faced, especially in rural and small communities with similar cultural and traditional factors and where literacy rates are poor.

It looks at a continuum of responses such as counselling and family mediation that can be developed, with safe houses being the last resort in VAW cases. And, importantly, it addresses how women, communities and organisations can begin to establish or build up response mechanisms to VAW, such as by conducting referrals and case management within structures and systems that already exist and enable them to be responsive to the needs of girls/women.

Main content and goals of the training modules

Module 1 Raising awareness of VAW (4 days)

  • To discuss and understand what violence is and how it affects the lives of the participants and the lives of other women in the family and community.
  • To address VAW in the community from a woman-centred perspective.


Module 2  Taking actions on VAW: individual and community activisms to stop violence against women (3 days)

  • To understand what it means to be a women’s rights activist through concepts of empowerment and solidarity and examples of activities established globally on VAW.
  • To learn how to start projects and activities on VAW through different methods and techniques for assessing needs and identification of problems.


Module 3 The legal framework: the duty to protect 

  • To provide an overview of the international and national legal framework on women's rights and VAW, including transitional justice.
  • To understand why 80% of the Afghan population uses customary laws (a mixture of traditional customary practices and Sharia law) to resolve disputes and how these systems violate women's fundamental human rights.
  • To learn strategies to achieve women's legal rights by making international and national legal frameworks responsive to women's rights around VAW issues.


Module 4  Casework and counselling skills on VAW (8-9 days)

  • To acquire knowledge of different components of casework and counselling skills in VAW cases.
  • To learn the importance of self awareness to become an effective caseworker through continuous feedback on personal development and growth.


Module 5 Case management on VAW (3 days)

  • To establish effective response mechanisms which must include the three guiding principles of confidentiality, safety and respect for women seeking help and support on violence against women (VAW) issues.
  • To identify strategies and methods for maximizing interagency, multi-sectoral and community coordination, communication and collaboration.


Module 6 Family mediation (4 days)

  • To acquire knowledge and skills on family mediation using principles which protect the well-being of the clients/women.
  • To continue to establish and develop effective response mechanisms


Module 7 Evaluation

  • This module provides information on tools for evaluating workshops. Thus both the group facilitators and participants will be able to reflect upon what has happened in the workshops, and on what has or has not been achieved