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India has stressed that gender euality and women empowerment are essential factors for the success of the peace process in Afghanistan. India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin cited the example of an Indian NGO named Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) which is working with the women in Afghanistan and providing vocational training in areas of food processing, garment stitching and embroidery. "Women empowerment and gender equality are essential to peace building," he said during a session here yesterday on opportunities for women's economic empowerment in insecure areas of Afghanistan. So far nearly 4,000 poor women and widows have benefited from the program and thousands more will receive the training in the second phase of the project by next year, he said. He said that under the project Afghan a federation named Sabah Bagh-e-khazanah, which has 22 women's groups who formulate their business plans, run their production centers and sell their products in the local markets. Initially about 45 local master trainers received training from visiting SEWA teams from India. They also visited India for vocational training and in turn imparted the skills to thousands of Afghan women, particularly war widows and destitute women, he added. The total cost of the project was about USD 2 million. Akbaruddin pointed out that in the second phase, the project has spread beyond Kabul and attracted other funds such as from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to train master trainers from Mazar-e-Sharif, Baghlan and Parwan Provinces. Over 3,000 women would benefit in this phase which would run through mid-2018, he said.
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