A second chance for Afghan women in Chile
“I’m the Afghan girl the Taliban wanted to chain. I’m the girl they wanted to imprison, who can’t study or work in that society. So, my crime and that of other Afghan women is to fight for our freedom,” 22-year-old Zahra Karimi.
Zahra Karimi fled Afghanistan after the Taliban took power in 2021 and arrived in Santiago de Chile as a refugee. Like other women, Zahra did not know anything about the country that would welcome her, nor about its culture.
How did she get there? Together with 25 women, Zahra participated in the UN Women’s Second Chance Education (SCE) Programme in Chile, an innitiative that helped her in the process of social and economic inclusion in Chile.
A model that helps women integrate into economy and society
The Second Chance Education (SCE) Programme – Tu oportunidad in Chile – provides a comprehensive solution for women who have not completed their formal education and are in a vulnerable situation in terms of employment and job opportunities.
Through public and private cooperation, SCE develops a sustainable system for women’s empowerment that involves formal education, upskilling for employment, digital literacy and tools for the development of enterprises.
To respond the to the specific challenges Afghan women faced in Chile, the program integrated several components, including:
- A characterization survey to identify the different profiles of Afghan women living in Chile and their needs.
- An introductory Spanish course to facilitate social and cultural integration into the host country.
- Face-to-face training in digital skills and access to a tablet with internet to improve participants integration using technology tools.
- Legal counselling sessions, supported by university legal clinics and in partnership with UNHCR, for participants to learn about Chile’s social protection network and receive information about their immigration status and rights.
- Personalized assistance to help with securing employment, including Curriculum Vitae development, job search strategies and interview preparation.
- Networking activities to connect with other women in the SCE programme in Chile.
- Awareness-raising sessions in workplaces to highlight the benefits of hiring refugee women.
- Referrals to entrepreneurship learning and initiatives for those interested in creating or strengthening a business.
In addition, and thanks to the SCE Programme’s network with civil society, Zahra participated in a free cooking and entrepreneur courses offered by Gastronomía Social Foundation.
Zahra dreams of taking her Afghan food venture even further by opening a restaurant where “only women work, a place where they can meet, laugh, share with their sons and daughters, and feel sure nothing will happen to them.”
As a result of the positive impact on the lives of 26 Afghan refugee women, the SCE approach taken in Chile will be expanded to refugees of other nationalities.
UN Women and BHP Foundation implement the SCE Programme in six countries including Cameroon, Jordan, India, Mexico, Australia, and Chile. Learn more about how to contribute to amplify SCE’s impact.
Second Chance Education Programme – Tu oportunidad in Chile - is supported by the BHP Foundation Education Equity program, a collaboration between international institutions to enhance opportunities for disadvantage young people and marginalized women to access, participate in and achieve a quality education. Learn more.