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In March 2019, Thunderbird for Good faculty, Doctor Eileen Borris, delivered ten days of train-the-trainer model workshops in Kabul, Afghanistan, focusing on building persuasion skills for a select group of 50 leaders and advocates of women’s rights.
Participants attended from across Afghanistan’s provinces and returned to their communities with the goal to train more than 5,000 other advocates throughout 2019. That larger group will use their new advocacy and persuasion skills to improve the lives of all Afghan women at both the national and provincial levels.
The How to be Persuasive workshop series consists of four separate interactive modules that can be delivered sequentially or each as a standalone supplement to the core workshop and is available in English, Dari, and Pashto. The core workshop titled, How to Be Persuasive, is two days long and focuses onintroducing, building, and practicing persuasion skills and techniques. Along with interactive lessons, the workshop features skits, games, and role-playing activities. In addition, a custom card game called, Convince Me! was designed to enhance the learning concepts and persuasion techniques where participants could continue honing their skills through practice even outside of the training sessions. During the practical workshop, participants develop a personal persuasion action plan that will help them implement change through persuasion in their respective areas of advocacy and their daily work.
The workshop was a huge success with extremely positive feedback from participants. A coalition member from Nangarhar noted that it was her favorite training to date and that it would be an “important tool” as she participates in the Afghan peace process. A participant from the Promote Women in Government project remarked that developing her own persuasion action plan was particularly helpful because it was “first hand learning” that she would be able to effectively explain to others. A gentleman from Kunduz committed to taking the training back to his province and immediately teach local key stakeholders of the peace process including leaders in the police force and university lecturers.
Dr. Eileen Borris remarked: “It was so inspiring to work with such dedicated and committed women (and men) all of whom want to make their country a better place to live.”
Success stories from the participants are abundant. A coalition woman advocate launched a door-to-door campaign to convince women to register for the upcoming elections. By persuading officials to mobilize a registration team and coordinate with a college for an acceptable facility, the women were able to help over 100 people in her community become registered to vote.
Another participant, an emerging young leader, created impact by establishing a library for women students in her local province. She also helped coordinate a drive for clothing and education supplies for underserved children in her community.
The trainings are part of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Promote: Musharikat project that supports Afghan civil society advocacy efforts to improve gender equality. The initiative works with women from across Afghanistan to provide training and guidance on advocacy skills and assist them to self-organize into groups or “coalitions”. Promote: Musharikat provides capacity building training to the coalitions on: planning, public policy processes, and advocacy complaint development.
Musharikat, which means ‘partnership’ or ‘participation’ in Dari and Pashto, is one of four Promote projects. Musharikat is designed to build a cadre of more than 5,000 activists and 300 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from all 34 provinces to more effectively advocate for and advance women’s equality and empowerment in Afghanistan.
Thunderbird for Good, within Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, works to tear down the barriers to entrepreneurship through management education programs that support nontraditional students who lack access to top quality training.
An initiative that began with women in emerging markets has spread, and today includes men and women around the globe who are generating outcomes that create sustainable prosperity worldwide. More than 120,000 graduates of these programs across 60+ countries– sponsored by corporate partners, delivered by Thunderbird faculty, and often supported by Thunderbird alumni who live and work in these underserved markets – create jobs, share knowledge, and improve living conditions in their communities.