Women’s Shop Monitoring 2019
In 2018, NRC – through its Urban Displacement and Out of Camp (UDOC) programme – partnered with IOM on a project to support women’s participation in out-of-camp settings, while also contributing to global learning on women’s participation techniques. As well as conducting a study (using the IOM Women’s Participation Toolkit) of women’s participation among displaced out-of-camp communities in eastern Afghanistan, the collaboration also allowed NRC to implement a community-led project to address a concern raised by women in the chosen target location – the urban settlement of Sheikh Mesri.
Some of the concerns raised by the women were the long distance and unsafe journey to markets in the city, presenting a challenge to women in accessing these markets; women’s economic exclusion in general (in terms of both livelihoods and access to markets); and the lack of safe ‘women’s spaces’ in the community, especially for women who did not have a friendship with, or relation to, the wives of community leaders (who would often host informal gatherings of women). Based on these highlighted issues, the community and NRC worked together to design a project establishing Women’s Shops. Assessments and consultations regarding the Women’s Shop project took place with the community, local leaders, and neighbourhood committees during July and August. NRC implemented the project in September 2017, when it provided cash grants of $3,500 each to the five selected shopkeepers1 to enable them to build the shops and purchase stock – the grant amount was calculated according to a BoQ agreed with the women. These women (and their husbands/family) agreed to allocate a room in their household’s compound for the shop, where only women could come to buy their needed goods.
Although NRC had to close its UDOC programme in East Region in September 2018, it was still able to undertake a first round of post-distribution monitoring on the shops, which revealed positive results. According to the findings, 100% of surveyed customers and four out of five shopkeepers cited the Women’s Shops as providing a preferred shop for women. According to 83% of customers and two out of five shopkeepers, this came with the added benefit of providing a safe space for women to meet and socialise.
NRC’s 2019 Camp Management strategy includes ongoing work to support women’s participation and initiatives to improve women’s safety. In light of this, NRC has conducted a further round of monitoring of the women’s shops during January 2019 to see how the shops are functioning three months later, and to help inform whether or not and how to roll out similar projects in other regions. Indeed, funding has already been secured for establishment of women’s run shops in the west region for drought-induced IDPs living in make-shift and formal camps in Herat and Badghis provinces. This report presents the findings of the latest monitoring, but NRC also intends to conduct another monitoring visit in March 2019, after which this report will be duly updated.