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SIGAR report shows shortcomings in some US programs for Afghan women



(Last Updated On: February 18, 2021)

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) stated in a report released Thursday that despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on efforts to support Afghan women and girls since 2002, some programs were designed on assumptions that proved to be ill-suited to the Afghan context.

In the Lessons Learned report, SIGAR head John F. Sopko stated that the shortcomings were found in an examination of 24 US gender-related programs.

“Some programs were designed based on assumptions that proved to be
ill-suited to the Afghan context and the challenges that women and girls faced.

“We found that establishing a correlation between program activities and related outcomes was not always possible, and in many cases, insufficient monitoring and evaluation of program activities made it impossible to assess the programs’ actual impacts,” he said.

The report stated that it is critical that US officials working on or in Afghanistan develop a more nuanced understanding of gender roles and relations in the Afghan cultural context – and work to ensure that US policies and programs are responsive to this context.

“US agencies also need to assess how to support women and girls without provoking backlash that might endanger them or stall progress,” read the report.

Sopko however pointed out that despite some shortcomings the importance of US backing for Afghan women’s rights should not be underestimated.

Almost $800 million has been spent in direct support of Afghan women and enormous progress has been made since 2002, including in the fields of health care and education.

The report stated meanwhile that “US and international diplomatic pressure can be instrumental in advancing women’s legal rights and participation in public life – in politics, government, media, and civil society.”

The report also noted that educating Afghan men and boys about gender equality issues and working with them as partners and advocates are critical to advancing women’s status and rights in Afghanistan.

“It is crucial that more women assume leadership positions in a wider range of Afghan government ministries, including at the cabinet level,” read the report.

However, the report stated that “US efforts to improve the lives of women and girls will continue to be constrained by significant barriers, especially insecurity and harmful sociocultural norms.”

In its recommendations to the US Congress, SIGAR suggested the current funding levels for Afghan women to improve access to health and education need to be preserved but that it be conditions-based so the Afghan government demonstrates its commitment to protecting the rights of women.

Among other recommendations made, SIGAR said the US Department of Defense also needs to spend between $10 million and $20 million a year to recruit and retain women in the military forces.

Among a list of other recommendations, SIGAR stated the US also needs to continue to support protective shelters for women and girls fleeing abuse, and increase mentorship and support to the Afghan National Police’s Family Response Units.

SIGAR also listed a host of recommendations for USAID with regards to protecting and empowering Afghan women. SIGAR stated the USAID administrator should ensure that job skills training for Afghan women are designed to be practical and responsive to market needs, and that the agency assesses the degree to which training expands participants’ knowledge and skills.

Reacting to this report, Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson said on Tuesday that the US’s commitment to Afghan women is steadfast.

“From 2002 to 2020, we invested over $785mln to improve outcomes in health, education, political/economic participation & access to justice for Afghan women,” he said.

“But our work was not without lessons learned – nor is it complete. Women worldwide are disproportionately affected by poverty, insecurity & harassment. Afghan women face formidable cultural, social, political & security barriers in exercising their constitutional rights,” he tweeted.

“Afghan men must also be champions of this critical issue; their future depends on full female representation so that Afghanistan might advance the gains and accelerate towards a more prosperous future,” Wilson stated.

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Almost 700 people including ex-govt officials return home: commission



(Last Updated On: October 1, 2023)

The Commission for Contact with Afghan Personalities says nearly 700 officials of the previous government, politicians, members of the National Council and some experts have returned to Afghanistan since the establishment of the commission early last year.

“Six hundred and eighty people from different countries have returned to the country,” said the commission’s spokesman, Ahmadullah Wasiq.

He stated that among these people are former officials of the old government who worked in various ministries and departments.

He added that currently, a large number of personalities, including politicians and high-ranking officials of the former government, have received application forms to return to the country through this commission, and will come home soon.

“We have distributed hundreds of forms [to them] and our wish is that in the near future many of the people will return to the country, so for now this process is going very well,” Wasiq added.

A number of those who have returned to the country, however, are demanding some changes to the commission, adding that the caretaker government should make effective use of the cadres and experts who return and provide them with work opportunities.

“The method of this process should be changed, such as communicating with experts or elites or politicians. Second, when these people come to Afghanistan, they should be provided with work,” said Amanullah Ghalib, former head of Breshna Sherkat, who also returned to the country recently.

Officials have repeatedly requested Afghans living abroad, including politicians and officials of the previous government, to return to their homeland and continue their normal lives in Afghanistan in accordance with the general amnesty issued by the Islamic Emirate’s supreme leader.

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Hanafi says IEA seeking to promote electronic governance



(Last Updated On: October 1, 2023)

Deputy Prime Minister for Administrative Affairs Abdul Salam Hanafi said on Sunday that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is trying to promote electronic governance in its institutions.

Hanafi said this at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the simplification of administrative processes between the Department of Administrative Reforms and Civil Services, the Ministry of Martyrs and the Disabled, and Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat company.

Hanafi added that the Islamic Emirate is committed to e-governance and is seeking to network government institutions so that the work can be done quickly.

“God willing, we are determined to gradually reform all government institutions. We are seeking to end the paperwork in the departments and we are trying to promote electronic governance among the institutions,” he said.

Hanafi also said that the Islamic Emirate is committed to serving the people and to the development of the country. He also said the government will soon start work on the second phase of Qosh Tepa canal as the first phase is almost complete.

“Alhamdulillah, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is engaged in reconstruction and development works in various fields. The first phase of the Qosh Tepa canal is being completed with our own funds,” he said.

On the other hand, officials in the Administrative Reforms and Civil Services Department said that they are hoping to attract experts and professionals in government offices and want the work to be entrusted to professionals. At the same time, the officials of DABS announced that 118 million afghanis has been collected from strongmen.

“The goal is to prevent corruption. The goal is to show compassion to the oppressed and suffering people. The goal is to avoid spending,” Abdulhanan Arifullah, the general director of the Administrative Reforms and Civil Services Department, said.

Deputy PM Hanafi said that compared to any other institution, the processes in the Ministry of Martyrs and the Disabled need to be simplified because vulnerable people reach out to this institution.

According to him, in the current year, 13.5 billion afghanis have been budgeted for the martyrs, disabled and orphans.

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Afghan embassy in India announces it will cease operations from Oct. 1



(Last Updated On: October 1, 2023)

The embassy of Afghanistan in India’s capital New Delhi will cease operations from Oct. 1, due to a lack of support from India and a reduction in personnel and resources, the embassy said in a statement on social media platform X.

The embassy also said a failure to meet expectations in serving Afghanistan’s interests is another key factor in shutting of the embassy.

“Given these circumstances, it is with deep regret that we have taken the difficult decision to close all operations of the mission with the exception of emergency consular services to Afghan citizens till the transfer of the custodial authority of the mission to the host country,” the embassy said in the statement dated Sept. 30.

In its announcement, the Afghan Embassy also cited challenges like shortage of both personnel and resources available. “The lack of timely and sufficient support from visa renewal for diplomats to other critical areas of cooperation led to an understandable frustration among our team and impeded our ability to carry out routine duties effectively,” the statement read.

The embassy also refuted any “baseless claims” regarding internal strife or discord among its diplomatic staff or any diplomats using the crisis to seek asylum in a third country.

Reuters had reported on Friday that the Afghan embassy in India suspended all operations after the ambassador and other senior diplomats left the country for Europe and the United States where they gained asylum.

India does not recognise the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) as government, and closed its own embassy in Kabul after the IEA took control in 2021, but New Delhi had allowed the ambassador and mission staff appointed by the Western-backed government of ousted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to issue visas and handle trade matters.


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