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About Chilla

Chilla Bulbeck is Professor Emeritus at the University of Adelaide, where she taught and researched in gender studies. She is co-secretary of SAWA-WA (Support Association for the Women of Afghanistan).

Website: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/chilla.bulbeck

Improving the effectiveness of Australia’s foreign aid

Eliminating barriers against grassroots NGOs

First up, I must confess my ‘interest’ in this topic.  I am co-secretary of the WA Branch of the Support Association for the Women of Afghanistan, SAWA. Founded in Adelaide, there are now SAWA groups in every State. We raise money for several projects, including a Vocational Training Centre in Kabul which educates women in literacy, computing skills, handicraft skills and English. The only money we raise that does not go to our causes is the auditor’s fees and postage for the newsletter. Our partner organisation in Afghanistan is OPAWC, the Organization for Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities. Because of their vision for women’s empowerment, OPAWC staff receive regular death threats from the Taliban and other fundamentalist forces. They describe their program of ’empowerment’ as not ‘short-lived or humanitarian’ but focused on improving the capacities of women, who only require ‘a door to walk through, and we are the ones who could help them and open the door and let them walk through it’.

In her book, Raising my Voice, Malalai Joya talks of warlords, drug lords and NGO lords. In the recent ABC 4 Corners program on Afghanistan, one commentator claimed that less than 5 per cent of the money promised after September 11 has actually gone to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans. Continue reading