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Cross Cutting-gender & youth
Counterpart’s programs around the world are guided by our Gender Integration Operational Guidelines, which closely align with USAID’s Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy. Transformative gender approaches are infused throughout each ACE program objective, which aspires to markedly improve gender equality and women’s access to opportunity in Afghanistan through the media and civil society sectors. While women-led and women-focused CSOs have flourished during the past decade, severe challenges continue to adversely impact their outreach abilities, including: weak organizational capacity, too-wide program focus, personality-driven management, lack of cooperation among organizations, and gender-based societal constraints. ACEP aims to support Afghan CSOs to be the drivers of larger and longer-term social change and positively impact gender relations by not only strengthening women’s organizations and creating specific opportunities for women but also by building the capacity of all civil society organizations to identify and address the different needs and priorities of men, women, boys, and girls throughout project design and implementation.
ACEP is taking a multifaceted approach of: 1) continuing to focus on gender mainstreaming where attention to gender is integrated into the practices, programs and policy advocacy of all partner organizations; 2) delivering assistance specific to women-led organizations and on women’s issues; 3) engaging men and boys in support of women’s issues and greater inclusion in society; and 4) encouraging women’s organizations to expand their focus beyond traditional women’s issues. ACE will also increase women’s visibility and voice within the media sphere through content development by and about women, training women media professionals, supporting women as audiences and participants in the media, increasing women’s access to quality news and information programming via mass media and helping media outlets better target and reach female audiences. ACE has designed qualitative and quantitative gender indicators to measure the anticipated change over time in attitudes toward gender equality, female political participation, gender sensitivity of legislation, portrayal of women in the media, and women’s meaningful participation in the civil society space.
ACE has a comprehensive and innovative approach for working with youth throughout the program. Youth in Afghanistan tend to be more optimistic, ambitious, technology savvy and open to new ideas than their parents and grandparents. At the community level, youth will make up a significant proportion of civic education trainees, service monitors and youth action grantees. As with gender, ACE will “mainstream” youth into most of what we do. In addition, ACE will support leading youth organizations and individuals through training, grants and our hallmark Emerging Leaders Program. ACE will identify and support young people and youth-serving organizations as a primary source of positive future change in Afghanistan. Within the media sphere, ACE will build upon the capacity and networks created through the 2010 Afghan Youth Voices Festivals and continue this as an annual event, with increasing support from and management by local youth CSOs like Youth in Action. Salam Watandar, local radio and TV station initiatives, Pajhwok Afghan News, and the Multi-Media Production Centers will support youth media production and distribution activities. These initiatives will deliver immediate impact in tandem with a commitment to building the long-term capacity of youth to play an active role in society.
While corruption in Afghanistan is obvious and deleterious, past efforts to expose or prevent corrupt practices have been rare. ACE aims to address this challenge through a variety of cross-cutting and direct activities, including: 1) modeling clean and transparent grant-making and program implementation; 2) including anti-corruption messaging and content in all civic education, advocacy and community development trainings and activities; 3) producing news, programs and public messaging aimed at reducing citizen participation in corrupt acts; 4) advocating for laws and a policy framework that reduces corruption; and 5) supporting Afghan CSOs and media outlets in exposing corrupt practices and inept service provision. There is a clear nexus between the quality of journalism and governance. Credible, evidence-based information is an essential public good, without which good governance is unachievable. Media initiatives under ACE that will support good governance include Nai’s courses in investigative reporting, SW’s daily hard-hitting public accountability radio programs such as Your Representative, My Right, and two broad economic and current affairs discussion shows. Lastly, through the Fix-It program, radio audiences will use SMS to highlight parochial problems in their communities (poor road repair, garbage collection, etc.), and these messages will be discussed with local officials on live discussion programs.