Afghan Women See Little Gains 15 Years After Taliban’s Ouster

  • Special inspector cites corruption and lack of security
  • Women are often cut out of political and economic system

Fifteen years after the U.S. ousted the Taliban regime, Afghanistan remains one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, said the U.S. government watchdog who monitors the country’s reconstruction.

Improving the lives and opportunities of Afghan women has been a policy goal of the U.S. rebuilding effort, and at least $1 billion has been committed for activities to improve their condition, John Sopko, the U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said in a quarterly report. Yet corruption and lack of security remain major roadblocks.

Inadequate security “not only makes it dangerous for women to go to school, work outside the home, and access health services, but also perpetuates social attitudes that women are vulnerable and thus should not leave the home,” Sopko said in the report.

More than 40 prominent Afghan women interviewed for the project said women are often excluded from the country’s political and economic system.

‘Men Run the System’

“This is a big problem for women because men run the system, and it is hard for women to be part of this,” said Shinkai Karokhail, a member of parliament from Kabul Province. “Men bring people into the system that they want, and because of warlords who have a lot of power, they do not support women.”

Overall the U.S. has allocated $115 billion for relief and reconstruction, and Afghanistan still needs help. International donors this month pledged another $15 billion through 2020 to help the country achieve self-reliance.

Sopko has long campaigned to curb the endemic corruption he says continues to undermine the fight against the Taliban, 15 years and more than 2,200 combat deaths following the American invasion weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.

The majority of Afghanistan’s roads need repairs and maintenance despite at least $2.8 billion having been spent by the U.S., according to the report.

Separately, in a report released on Oct. 7, Sopko said some of the $68 billion the U.S. has spent since 2002 to support Afghanistan’s military may have been wasted on “ghost” soldiers and police who exist only on paper.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.
LEARN MORE