The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) made two grants last week totaling $64,000 to the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs. These grants will be used to reconstruct the ministry’s building complex, the former site of the Afghan Women’s Institute in Kabul. The auditorium building in the complex was burned during Taliban rule in Kabul, and the roof has collapsed. Rubble is throughout the complex. The USAID grants will help the ministry to renovate the complex, create offices, and establish programs.
The USAID grants are the first received by the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs. The ministry, however, is in desperate need of funding, as it is the only ministry in the Afghan interim government without pre-existing resources. The Feminist Majority is calling for increased funding for the women’s ministry. Significant immediate funding is crucial if the ministry is to succeed in combating the effects of gender apartheid implemented by the Taliban and helping the women and girls of Afghanistan regain their rights and participate fully in the rebuilding of the country.
Last week, USAID also awarded $13,000 to Ariana, a national Afghan women’s nongovernmental organization (NGO) that provides educational training to women and girls. The Feminist Majority has been calling on U.S. agencies to provide money directly to Afghan women’s NGOs as a means of ensuring education and healthcare services for women and girls. Founded in 1993, Ariana was shut down by the Taliban’s Police for the Prevention of Vice and the Protection of Virtue by 1997. The organization continued to provide services, however, and will hold a graduation ceremony for women who attended its clandestine schools during the Taliban’s reign. Dr. Sima Samar, Minister of Women’s Affairs, will award the graduates with certificates on International Women’s Day, March 8. Samar will also host an International Women’s Day Conference held in Kabul.
The Feminist Majority has been calling for immediate U.S. support for the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs and for Afghan women-led NGOs. Join the Feminist Majority’s Campaign to Help Afghan Women and Girls. Visit www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.