The people of Afghanistan face humanitarian and economic crises borne of decades of conflict, severe drought, COVID-19, and endemic corruption. The Taliban’s repression and economic mismanagement have exacerbated longstanding economic challenges. Indeed, according to UN Development Program, the Taliban have reversed 10 years of economic growth in just 12 months, and their restrictions on women could result in an economic loss of up to 1 billion dollars, warned UN Counselor John Kelly.
Key to Afghanistan’s economic recovery will be the participation of all members of society, including women and girls. But, “as we all know,” said Counselor Kelly, “the Taliban have severely restricted the enjoyment of human rights for all Afghans, and particularly for women and girls.”
Most recently, the Taliban took action to prevent Afghan women from going to parks, gyms, and public baths – all part of a systematic effort to limit women’s participation in Afghan society.
Such restrictions would further rob another generation of women of their prospects to support their families and to contribute to their communities. Without the full participation of women in the Afghan economy, it will be impossible for Afghanistan to have a full recovery. When women are cut out of the workforce, society loses talent and productivity from half its population.
“Women could provide lifelines for families facing poverty if they were simply allowed to. They could help create more stable, more resilient communities at a time when those are desperately needed in Afghanistan,” observed Counselor Kelly.
In September, Secretary Blinken announced the launch of the Alliance for Afghan Women’s Economic Resilience. The Alliance is a public-private partnership that aims to advance Afghan women’s workforce participation, entrepreneurship, and education. The United States awarded 1.5 million dollars to an organization that will support women’s entrepreneurship.
In August, the United States announced a 30-million-dollar commitment to support gender equality and women’s empowerment in Afghanistan.
Clearly, the United States remains invested in the future of the Afghan people. We will continue to work with the international community to support a stable, prosperous, and self-reliant Afghanistan that respects the human rights of all its citizens.