Responsibility for the newly renovated National Women’s Dormitory was handed over from international donors to the Ministry of Higher Education today during a ceremony at Kabul University. Acting Minister of Higher Education Mr. Sarwar Danish, Deputy U.S. Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone Jr., and various Afghan dignitaries and members of the international donor community were on site to witness the handover ceremony.
The event was hosted by the Ministry of Higher Education, and marks the transfer of responsibility for all management, maintenance, and operational costs of the women’s dormitory including utilities and salaries for the staff.
“Inauguration of this dormitory no doubt is the main factor in development of our country. Higher Education is the main factor for improvement of human resources all over the world,” said Acting Minister Mr. Danish. “The Ministry of Higher Education is committed to building the capacity and providing proper opportunities especially for females.”
The dormitory will provide safe and secure living space for 1,100 women and girls attending university courses in Kabul. “I am glad that there is a Women’s Dormitory, as I am from Ghazni province. The dormitory is a very safe place and without it, it would not be possible for me to continue my education,” said Yalda, dormitory resident.
The United States originally began construction of the dormitory at Kabul University in the 1970’s, but civil unrest in Afghanistan and attacks years later from the Taliban delayed its completion until September 2004. More U.S. government funded renovations resumed, and the Asia Foundation assumed management and maintenance and operations of the dormitory in December 2008. The $12 million renovation was officially completed in March 2009.
“While the opening of the dormitory was an important event, I would like to point out that today’s event is equally, and perhaps even more important,” said Ambassador Ricciardone. “Having the Government of Afghanistan and the Ministry of Higher Education assume full responsibility for the day-to-day management of this incredibly important building is an achievement for which they are to be commended and we should celebrate.”
During the next phase of the program, which will extend to 2013, the Asia Foundation will provide residence life programming at the women’s dorm and plans to expand these services to the men’s dorm as well. These programs focus on developing leadership skills and fostering a sense of community service among the residents and employees.