This thesis assesses the concept of participation as it was manifested by different parties in international aid projects targeting women’s empowerment in Afghanistan from the perspectives of 10 Afghan development professionals who worked in the aid projects from 2009 to 2016, as well as from analysis of a number of project evaluations and my personal experience. The research is based on the premise that because the Afghan professionals had a local background and linguistic skills, they would have had a deeper understanding of the basic needs of Afghan women than most expatriate staff. The research found that the project designs were not based on customized research and needs assessment specific to the timing and objectives of the projects, that the project beneficiaries, even sometimes local staff, were not involved in planning and decision making, that the plans made were mostly not implemented, that the quality of implemented projects was unsatisfactory, and, finally, that the lack of sustainability measures and coordination with government and stakeholders raised concerns about the longevity of the projects.
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Thesis advisor: Anderson, Robert
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