Afghanistan Entrepreneurship Programme Resumed; Digital 4IR Programme to Follow

The recent upheaval in Afghanistan has affected many people including UNITAR alumni, partners and prospective participants. UNITAR has been following the situation with utmost concern and has called for the protection of human life, humanitarian assistance and respect for the rights of all people in Afghanistan.

The Division of Prosperity has been providing learning support to the people of Afghanistan, particularly women, for more than a decade and is committed to continuing this work. However, to ensure the safety of our learners, we temporarily suspended in August our ongoing programmes in Afghanistan until a safe learning environment could be assured for all.

We were therefore pleased to resume our COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme: Mobilizing Resilient Entrepreneurs to Address Food Insecurity, Public Health and Unemployment – For Women in Afghanistan on 8 October 2021, following a two-month hiatus. The participants were highly motivated to return to their studies, especially women who are having difficulties accessing learning opportunities in the ever-changing situation of the country.

Through the shared platforms and discussions, these budding social entrepreneurs deepened their understanding of local food insecurity, public health challenges and unemployment, as well as forged connections with each other by sharing their concerns and hopes for the future.

The Leading Inclusive 4IR: Empowering Women in Afghanistan for the Future of Work through Digital Reskilling programme similarly has plans to resume in January 2022. One of the programme’s alumnae, Hosna, a student of the American University of Afghanistan, emphasizes how indispensable these e-learning opportunities are for women in Afghanistan to not lose their hope.

Many young Afghan women have grown up believing in their right to pursue their dreams and yearn to make a positive difference, even as they fear an uncertain future. To support women like Hosna pursue their goals, UNITAR Division for Prosperity with UNITAR Association set up the #FreedomToLearn donation drive. The funds raised will be used to develop a new free online training programme for Afghan women to develop practical skills to run businesses or find work and navigate uncertainty and disinfodemics. We have raised approximately USD 7,200 to date. If you would like to contribute, please email us at:

UNITAR Launches Programme for Women’s Leadership in Disaster Risk Reduction

UNITAR alumna and resource person Everlyn Fiualakwa (Solomon Islands) facilitates a disaster risk management workshop to establish a provincial protection committee in Central Islands Province. (Photo courtesy of Everlyn Fiualakwa)

On 8 September 2021, UNITAR Division for Prosperity launched the Women’s Leadership in Tsunami-based Disaster Risk Reduction Programme, a three-month course on disaster prevention targeting women living in or from Pacific island countries and territories.

Through mobile lessons and interactive webinars, the programme covers topics such as the Sendai Framework, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), gender-responsive disaster risk reduction, multi-stakeholder coalitions in disaster risk reduction, community-based disaster risk reduction, and climate change. The initial turnout was a success – over a hundred participants joined the first webinar and have gone on to develop their own disaster risk reduction plans.

The programme gives voice to people from the Pacific, who tell stories of their first-hand experiences to contextualize the importance of disaster risk reduction.

One such account is of Anzonetta Janice Joan Slaven-Schwalger and her husband Jared, who lost their children and immediate family members in the 2009 Samoa earthquake and tsunami. Anzonetta testifies how no preparations had been made before disaster struck. Her subsequent loss highlights how vital it is for participants to develop a disaster preparedness plan to minimize loss and save lives.

One of the most important takeaways for participants in past runs of the programme was to “build back better” as outlined in the Sendai Framework. “If we learn from every hazard and build back better in preparation for recurrence and/or even worse disasters, the world will eventually attain a decent disaster preparedness level,” said alumna Ankia Chia, a health professional and teacher working in Micronesia.

Everlyn Fiualakwa of the Solomon Islands, another programme alumna and now UNITAR resource person, echoes this emphasis on prevention.

UNITAR will continue to support women’s leadership in disaster risk reduction and provide them with the knowledge and skillsets to incorporate into their future work.

UNITAR to Launch Joint Programme in Partnership with Unilever and Absa Bank in Kenya

UNITAR will be launching the new programme Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Leadership Training for Women Entrepreneurs in Africa with Unilever’s Sunlight and Absa Bank Kenya to help women entrepreneurs in Kenya develop their social and for-profit businesses.

Unilever’s Sunlight has invested in a five-year programme to support women in business through initiatives such as financial literacy training and advertising. Absa Bank has pledged to bring its expertise on practical matters such as how to register a business, formalize operations and keep accurate records.

Conducted online, the joint programme will train 5,000 participants in social entrepreneurship, financial and digital literacy by the end of June 2022. UNITAR hopes that this partnership will help further strengthen local businesses to create a meaningful and sustainable impact in Kenyan society.

UNITAR Launches Sahel Programme on Digital Reskilling and Upskilling

On 15 November 2021, UNITAR launched the first round of the Strategic Response to COVID-19 Crisis: Empowering the Sahel Region through Digital Reskilling and Upskilling to Enhance Productive Sources of Livelihood and Employment training programme.

To meet high demand, UNITAR accepted 500 women and youth from eight countries in the Sahel region. The programme aims to support them in transforming their entrepreneurial ideas into digital products that address critical local issues.

Conducted in French, the six-week training programme will be held online and will cover programming skills, digital literacy, application development, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence training, combined with gender leadership training. Two rounds of the programme are scheduled to be run.

UNITAR also launched the Leading Inclusive 4IR: Empowering Women in Iraq for the Future of Work through Digital Reskilling course this November, with 150 participants. Similar in content to the Sahel programme, the six-week online programme will train young women in Iraq to transform their entrepreneurial plans into concrete digital products that empower others and address social issues in their communities.

Our Impact

Zahraa Al-Sarraf Zahraa, the Iraq Entrepreneurship Programme alumnus

UNITAR Alum Advocates for Mental Health in Iraq

Using the skills that she learned from UNITAR’s Iraq Entrepreneurship Programme, Zahraa Al-Sarraf works to provide mental health services for internally displaced people in Iraq and develop policies to bring the government’s attention to mental health.

Khamis Bol, the South Sudan Entrepreneurship Programme alumnus and now coach

South Sudan Alum Gives Back as a Mentor

A former participant of UNITAR’s South Sudan Entrepreneurship Programme and now coach, Khamis Bol is passionate about passing on what he learned to young people and making a positive impact on their lives.

Ali Baba Abdulkarim, one of the participants of the programme

Strengthening Crises-Response Capacities of Policymakers in Sub-Saharan Africa

UNITAR and the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations organized an e-learning programme focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on trade, economic growth and the 2030 Agenda. The course ran in November 2020 with financial support from the State of Qatar through UNITAR’s Strategic Framework Fund.

Changements de Perspective dans le Domaine du Commerce et la Sécurité Alimentaire (in French only)

UNITAR and the FAO jointly organized a four-week online training programme on food security challenges due to trade policy measures, and the main legal frameworks governing trade and food security. The course ran from 12 October to 8 November 2020.

Horn of Africa Programme Trains Women in Entrepreneurial Skills

Women from Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan took part in UNITAR’s online social entrepreneurship programme to gain practical skills in social entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation to address local needs. Alumna Wongel Alemayehu Habtemariam hopes to use her skills and open a cafe where she can employ single mothers and young people and teach them everything she learned.

Alin Aoun, a participant in the Gender Empowerment Now Programme

Government Officials in Jordan and Lebanon Work Towards Women’s Empowerment

From March to May 2021, government officials from Jordan and Lebanon participated in UNITAR’s online course to learn about women’s empowerment and ways to build capacity for gender equality through government policy.


Youth Ambassador Hiroshima Workshop Held with NEC and H&M Japan

The 2021 Hiroshima Youth Ambassadors were joined by leading companies NEC and H&M Japan to discuss approaches to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a post-COVID-19 world. NEC and H&M Japan experts introduced concepts of working with shareholders, as well as real-life case studies on the SDGs to encourage young people to come up with their own solutions to pressing issues. During the 3-month Youth Ambassador programme, 22 Hiroshima high school students participated in five workshops, worked in groups, and made final presentations in an online event on 24 October 2021. The event was held in Japanese and was open to the public.

Educate All Open Online Courses Have High Completion Rate, Global Impact Report Shows

UNITAR Division for Prosperity has released its first interactive Global Impact Report on the first-year performance of its Educate All open online course library. The Report shows that UNITAR’s content has a much higher completion rate than average traditional massive open online courses (MOOCs). EdApp and UNITAR partnered in 2020 to create Educate All, which offers free mobile-based lessons on topics related to the SDGs. Anyone can curate their own playlist of courses for their professional development or educate others. You can preview the full Global Impact Report or download the content from the Educate All library via the EdApp mobile app.

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