Outta here

Criticism for USAid scheme, as situation gets worse for Afghanistan’s women’s rights defenders

Andrea Bruce/The New York Times

Once again, the US is pulling out of a country, leaving mayhem behind. A new Amnesty International report, titled “Their Lives on the Line,” is calling on authorities to investigate the persecution of Afghanistan’s women’s rights activists by Taliban, warlords and government officials. It accuses the Afghani government and international community of standing by idly, doing nothing to protect these activists from an onslaught of attacks, sexual assault and assassination attempts.  At the same time, a USAid scheme named Promote – hailed last year as “the largest ever women’s empowerment programme” – has come under scrutiny from a US watchdog, for lacking transparency and  failing to consult the women it’s supposed to protect. While the scheme is supposed to spend $416 million dollars in order to help women’s rights groups and boost women’s participation in the country, critics say the programme is not based on the needs of women in Afghanistan, and it’s unsure that it will lead to any tangible benefits for them. USAid is brushing off the criticism however, calling it “unfounded.” There is a strong fear among human rights defenders that, with the withdrawing of military engagement, western countries’ attention for women’s rights in the country will wither.

It is a small miracle that, despite the violence and death threats, so many women activists are still courageously keeping up the fight. Just a few weeks ago, Afghan women grabbed the world’s attention when, in a grand showing of solidarity, they broke custom to become the pallbearers of Farkhunda’s coffin – the young woman brutally murdered by a mob in the nation’s capital.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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