TAMPERE, Finland--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Finland’s Prime Minister Petteri Orpo presented the EUR 300,000 Prize to Mahbouba Seraj, the Executive Director of the Afghan Women Skills Development Center in Tampere, Finland on 11 December 2023.
“Finland has strongly supported gender equality and women’s rights in Afghanistan for 20 years. Even today, we continue to provide this important support as widely as possible in the current situation. Finland will not forget Afghan women,” says Prime Minister Petteri Orpo.
“The Afghan Women Skills Development Center is doing vital work to defend women’s rights and gender equality. The situation in Afghanistan is extremely difficult especially for women and organisations advocating their rights, which further emphasises the importance of the work done by this year’s recipient and the courage this work requires,“ says Minister of Social Security Sanni Grahn-Laasonen.
The organization provides Afghan women with training and to support their skills development and economic empowerment. The organisation operates in eight provinces around the country. It cooperates with the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, and the purpose of this cooperation is, first and foremost, to provide protection to women and families who are in danger. Women can, for example, bring their children to have a medical examination or spend time with them at small family centres. At these centres, the organisation also provides women with food, hygiene products and money.
“After more than 40 years of war, there are an estimated 3.5-4 million female widows in this country. After the Taliban came to power, they can no longer go to work or earn a living except in a very limited way. We are trying to make the Taliban understand that these women are the only breadwinners of their families, that it is necessary for them to work, and they must be able to move out of their homes,” says Mahbouba Seraj.
Nearly 500 nominations for the Prize were submitted from all over the world. The recipient of the Prize was decided based on the proposal made by an international prize jury, which was chaired by Saara-Sofia Sirén, President of the National Council of Women of Finland. The jury also included human rights activist Zarifa Ghafari, actress Krista Kosonen, news anchor Richard Lui, co-founder and President of GWL Voices Susana Malcorra and CMI ‒ Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation’s Chair of the Board Alexander Stubb.
Read Mahbouba Seraji’s interview: