Secretary of State Colin L. Powell assured Afghan interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai yesterday that the U.S. would continue to offer support for Afghan reconstruction efforts. “We will be with you in this current crisis,” said Powell, “and for the future.” Funds for reconstruction, however, have been moving slowly into the country, and Afghanistan is still in desperate need of start up funds to pay for basic supplies like phones, heaters, and office equipment and for civil servant employee salaries, which have not been paid for many months. Powell, though, did not discuss the specifics of U.S. funding on his trip leading UN spokesperson Ahmed Fawsi to comment, “Reassurance is good; cash is better.” Immediate funding is especially critical for the survival of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, a new ministry with no existing resources in Afghanistan.
The United Nations estimates that Afghanistan needs $100 million in start up funds, but donor countries have only pledged $20 million and only $7 million has been delivered. Fawsi called the situation, “very disappointing.” The U.S. alone has pledged $1 million, but as of Tuesday, the Afghan interim government had received only $500,000. The U.S. will, however, participate in a conference in Tokyo next week with more than 50 donor countries to discuss a funding strategy for Afghan reconstruction. The Feminist Majority is calling for an immediate infusion of aid into Afghanistan, with both immediate and long-term funding designated specifically for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
The Feminist Majority is also calling for some funds to be channeled directly to Afghan women-led nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). UNIFEM and the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children will also be at the meeting, but leading U.S. women’s groups are not being allowed to attend. It is unclear whether Afghan women’s NGOs will be represented at the meeting.
TAKE ACTION: Support the Afghan Ministry for Women’s Affairs.