KABUL, Afghanistan – The United States on a press release Friday announced a $30 million commitment to support gender equality and women’s empowerment in Afghanistan, amid increasing restrictions and ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country.
The announcement, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), came days after at least 71 economists and experts – including Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz – urged Washington to release Afghanistan’s central bank assets.
“Enabling Essential Services for Afghan Women and Girls” activity will increase Afghan women and girls’ access to social protection services; provide resources and support for women-led civil society organizations working to advance women’s rights in Afghanistan; and increase women’s economic empowerment through skills and business development training and entrepreneurship support.
Since the takeover last August, the Taliban have “sharply restricted” the most fundamental human rights for Afghan women and girls, where many women are deprived of schooling and work – except in certain professions, such as health.
“In most provinces, girls have not been permitted to attend school beyond the sixth grade, and women attending university face significant harassment,” the US press release stated. “Violence against women and girls overall has increased.”
“Female human rights defenders and journalists are targeted and threatened by the Taliban for speaking up for their freedoms, and the Taliban has increasingly restricted the space for women-led civil society organizations to operate freely and independently.”
United States Government reaffirmed its commitment to stand with Afghan women and girls, saying the USAID funding will provide direct support for Afghan women’s civil society organizations, which have been the backbone of Afghanistan’s decades-long movement for women’s rights.
“As women and girls face rising rates of gender-based violence in Afghanistan, this funding for UN Women will also provide women and girl survivors of violence with access to free and safe accommodation, legal aid and healthcare, psycho-social support, counseling, and vocational training,” the release wrote.
“The funding will also help UN Women respond to the urgent and immediate livelihoods needs of Afghan women, and help them build income security through private sector partnerships that will create job opportunities and help Afghan women launch or rebuild their micro, small or medium businesses,” the statement further elaborated.
Meanwhile, a sum of $80 million is considered to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and another $40 million of aid is allocated to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“Today the United States… announced an $80 million commitment to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to improve food security and nutrition for Afghans experiencing severe food insecurity, including women, women-headed households, and smallholder farmers and herders,” the USAID’s statement reads.
Earlier the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) said the recent floods have severely affected the farmers and gardeners in Afghanistan, seeking support from the international community to tackle the ongoing crisis.
“As much as aid is provided, it is effective for the Afghan agriculture sector,” said Musbahuddin Mustayeen, a spokesman for the MAIL. “The agriculture lands and canals have been affected, and the livestock have been lost.”
The ongoing political crisis since the takeover last August has “hit hard” private sectors in Afghanistan, where businesses were halted and put to uncertainty.