Fighting the gender wars in Afghanistan
The Special Inspector General’s summary report on Afghanistan reconstruction is loaded with examples of how the U.S. wasted billions on trying to build a modern democracy on medieval foundations.
But this summary report is built on years of additional reporting which showed where American tax dollars were going – much of it, turns out, right down the drain. OpenTheBooks.com’s Adam Andrzejewski notes that a January SIGAR report found the U.S. spent millions on women’s rights issues, including:
…$27 million on a program called “Promote: Women’s Rights Groups and Coalition”; $6.7 million to fight “Gender Based Violence”; and $7.4 million on “Promote: Rolling Baseline and End-Line Survey,” a study to determine results of a program to promote gender equity.
All of this was always going to be an exceedingly tough thing to do in region.
The larger issue, however, is that the U.S. believed programs born in a university classroom could thrive in a loosely defined country where warlords fuel their conflicts with a fundamentalist religion and opium taxes. They could…but only if there was a substantial western military presence, and an endless supply of taxpayer money, to protect them.
The Taliban says it has changed since the 1990s, and will respect women’s rights. But there is little reason to believe such promises, and there are worries that Sharia law will be restored. Plus, there’s the Taliban’s own recent actions to consider:
In some areas of Afghanistan that fell to Taliban control in recent weeks, the group imposed restrictions on women. Women were banned from leaving the house without a male relative and forced to wear burqas, which cover a woman from head to toe. Some commanders demanded families hand over unmarried women to marry their fighters. In Kabul, images of women outside beauty parlors have been painted over or ripped off. Female teachers were barred from teaching to boys. Female journalists employed by state TV, now under Taliban control, were stopped from going to work.
That doesn’t sound like a regime interested in promoting gender equity, never mind basic human rights.