Afghanistan ranks as the unhappiest country in the world another year in a row, in the latest annual Gallup World Happiness Report. The report specifically noted that life for people in Afghanistan one year after the Taliban rose to power has declined. Gallup surveyed adults in 142 countries and areas in 2022 about different negative experiences they had on that day. Negative experiences varied from worry, stress, physical pain, sadness and anger – all of which were at a record high.
Afghanistan has ranked as the unhappiest in the world since 2017 (with a hiatus in 2020 when surveys were not conducted). The country’s score in 2022 was 34 which is “the lowest in the world.” Even before the Taliban rose to power, the positive daily experiences in Afghanistan were low, but any positive emotions “largely disappeared from Afghanistan in 2021 – and did not return in 2022.” Afghans reported record lows of feeling enjoyment, learning something interesting, or feeling well rested – all measures of happiness. The Taliban has placed heavy restrictions on many freedoms and rights.
Afghan women who were forced to stop working and became unemployed after the Taliban barred women from the workplace continue their calls on the Taliban to remove these restrictions immediately. Over the past two years, the Taliban has issued over 100 edicts against Afghan women and girls, including preventing them from going to work and school. Women emphasized the importance of providing work for women as a government responsibility for the de facto authorities.
Masoda, a woman who worked to support her family, stated that “knowledge and work are the basic right of every person.” Human rights have no cultural or geographic boundaries, they are universal. She added that many breadwinners in Afghanistan are women who don’t have brothers and fathers, and that the government should provide the opportunity to work instead of depriving them.
Sema, an employee of an organization, urged the Taliban to end the ban on work for girls and women which would allow them to participate in Afghanistan’s society and help it develop. In response, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman claimed that “work is underway” to let women return to work as long as there is conflict with Sharia law.
UNICEF expressed concern about international organizations not being allowed to operate in Afghanistan, which will affect the education of 500,000 children, including over 300,000 girls. It said “every child has the right to learn” and that Afghanistan will “lose out on quality learning through community-based education” if intergovernmental organizations are no longer allowed to work.
A women’s rights activist said “such suspension of (NGO) operations will damage the education of Afghanistan and the Afghan children will be vulnerable.” Under the current Taliban regime, Afghanistan is facing its worst humanitarian crisis and women are being denied critical rights. Millions of people are affected by economic challenges and acute starvation.
World Happiness Report; ANI 06/29/2023