Today, the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced a $30 million commitment to support gender equality and women’s empowerment in Afghanistan. This funding will be programmed through the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).
The “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.
The Taliban have sharply restricted the most fundamental human rights for Afghan women and girls. Many women and girls have been instructed by the Taliban to stay at home. Women have not been allowed to 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. 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.
This USAID funding reaffirms the U.S. Government’s commitment to stand with Afghan women and girls as they fight to enjoy human rights and opportunities. This 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 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.