A Review of Objectives, Activities, and Future Plans AWCCI, Organizational Document (V6) - Page 4

STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT Ever since that day in early March 2016 when I met with a few young Afghan women entrepreneurs, members of LEAD, I have been struck by their determination and their sense of purpose. Despite the many obstacles they were encountering they remained positive in their quest to build an institution that would allow Afghan women to become part of the economic scene in Afghanistan. I admired their dedication and kept cheering them on from the sidelines as they built a solid case for a Chamber of Commerce for Afghan women and were finally given the green light from the country’s High Economic Council to establish the Afghan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI) in March 2017. I followed with interest their expansion into the provinces and the opening of four branches, in Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-e Sharif, and Jalalabad and read with interest their monthly newsletter describing their various activities. One of the fundamental objectives of the International Trade Centre (ITC) is to economically empower women producers and traders and support them to become more competitive. In Afghanistan, our work under the under the European Union-funded Advancing Afghan Trade initiative includes a strong partnership with the Afghan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI) which, although only recently established, has become a strong voice for the community of Afghan businesswomen. In particular, the ITC collaborated with the AWCCI and others in the development of the Afghanistan National Export Strategy (NES) 2018–2022. The AWCCI mobilised women entrepreneurs and women- led business associations to play an important role in consultative processes for the NES throughout the country, including in Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Kandahar and Kabul. 3 I also had the privilege of traveling with them to two important conferences: RECCA, the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan which took place in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan in November 2017, and “She Trades Global 2018” organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) which took place in Liverpool, United Kingdom, in June 2018. At both conferences they displayed a level of professionalism that made me proud. Their interventions on various panels were informed and to the point, and they mingled with ease amongst their fellow businesswomen from other countries, exchanging information and building promising relationships. It is with great affection that I continue to watch them grow into accomplished professionals. Their contribution to the economic development of our dear Afghanistan is increasing by the day. Internationally, they also are valuable ambassadors for Afghanistan, spreading abroad the trademark Made By Afghan Women. May God bless their efforts and bring them all the success they deserve! – Her Excellency Rula Bibi Gul Ghani, First Lady of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan I am delighted to bring my personal contribution to this report by highlighting the role Afghan women can play in supporting Afghanistan’s socio- economic progress and its journey to peace and prosperity. There will be no sustainable peace in Afghanistan without inclusive growth and massive jobs creation. Consistently, the EU has made economic development a pillar of its engagement. This priority cascades into various programs, and I wish to underline the positive results of “Advancing Afghan Trade”. Together with our implementing partner, the International Trade Centre (ITC), we have reached out to a number of key Afghan economic players in support of the economic agenda. Among them I can certainly single out the Afghanistan Women´s Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AWCCI) as one of the most dynamic actors in promoting both women empowerment and economic progress in Afghanistan. On a number of occasions I could personally witness the energy, courage, and professionalism of the AWCCI leadership and its members. Afghan entrepreneurs are facing multiple challenges, and when these entrepreneurs are women the challenges increase exponentially. Still, thanks to the joint mobilization of major stakeholders – public and private, national and international – the situation is slowly improving, as suggested by the growing number of businesses led by women. AWCCI is duly saluted here for its contribution to improving the status of businesswomen and female entrepreneurs in Afghanistan. I am therefore pleased to present this review of the AWCCI’s objectives, activities, and future plans, which was prepared with the active support of the European Union. This document is another step towards further improving the services of the AWCCI in support of its members. – His Excellency Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon Head of the EU Delegation to Afghanistan For Afghanistan to have truly inclusive growth and job creation, the views of Afghan women must be taken into account. I am pleased that these voices have been reflected in the final NES, which provides a blueprint for supporting this inclusive and equitable economic growth. Currently there are still a very limited number of Afghan associations designed to enhance the role of women in the country’s economic life. Therefore, efforts must be made to support activities aimed at enhancing the visibility and technical capacities of these organisations, especially those in the field of trade (including AWCCI), and to develop specific export-ready capacity-building activities in those economic areas where women predominate. The AWCCI has been a valuable partner for us as we work together to realise the goals of the NES. Our shared aim is to strengthen the Afghan economy and increase opportunities for both Afghan men and women. Our collaboration with AWCCI in completing this review marks an important step in this journey and we look forward to future collaboration. – Arancha González, Director, the International Trade Centre This strategic document was produced with technical support from the International Trade Centre, and falls under the framework of the European Union-funded ‘Advancing Afghan Trade: EU Trade-Related Assistance’ project. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union. 4