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Who is Responsible for the Failure of PROMOTE?

FEATURE: Who is Responsible for the Failure of PROMOTE?

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), in its new report, said that one of the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) projects in Afghanistan has wasted US taxpayers’ money. It highlighted that USAID has devoted $280 million for the PROMOTE project in Afghanistan with the goal of employing 75,000 Afghan women, supporting women entrepreneurs and encouraging them to do business; however, the results of the project remain vague.
PROMOTE is a five-year program that claims to support women rights groups, expand women’s participation in the economy, increase the number of women in critical positions in the Afghan government, and help women develop business and management skills.
John Sopko, the US Inspector General for Reconstruction, said they have not gotten the right information so far about how the program has helped Afghan women. While, SIGAR report found that the total amount spent on the project was $89 million to contractors from three security companies outside Afghanistan.
According to the intelligentsia, compared to the amount of donated money, there has not been much work done for women. Moreover, there are more than 500 women’s projects in Afghanistan, while women keep on facing serious challenges regarding discrimination and violence against them.
Following the publication of SIGAR’s report mentioned above, PROMOTE became the main topic of discussion for social media users. Hundreds of dollars of excess money were criticized for this project, and the failure of the First Lady was also highlighted, as she had initially shown special interest in the program, but the head office of the First Lady refused any sort of intervention in PROMOTE. The fundamental question is: who are responsible for the failure of this project? Are only the Afghan government agencies guilty of this or the USAID, as the sponsor of this project?
Failure of projects in Afghanistan is not a new and unknown topic. In the past seventeen years, the people of this country have witnessed the failure of hundreds of projects in their areas. These failures have now changed the people’s perspective on such project, and everywhere the development projects are linked to betrayal, abuse, personal exploitation, embezzlement, and money laundering.
In the past years, billions of dollars were donated from the international community in Afghanistan, but due to the volume of aid, there was little change in the lives of the Afghan people. Unnecessary expenses, high dollar salaries, administrative formalities and the lack of effective oversight mechanisms were among the issues that provided the pitfalls of aid and reduced the impact and effectiveness of projects in people’s lives.
Interestingly, despite the recruitment of numerous foreign and domestic consultants, most projects have been launched with a lot of advertising and noise, and these projects have been implemented for many years and millions and billions have been spent on these projects, the results of most of them are almost non-existent.
The key question is: what factors have caused large projects and huge expenditures to improve the capacity and the lives of Afghan women not to yield tangible results?
One of the main reasons for the ineffectiveness of programs under the name of Afghan women empowerment is the ineffective governance of the Afghan government and corruption in the use of these projects. The large amount of money that was contributed by the international community to enhance Afghanistan’s women’s capacity has often been disappointing and has not been devoted to infrastructure programs to empower women in Afghanistan.
Corruption in the government has made it impossible for global assistance to empower Afghan women in policy-making, to improve their lives, create a context for education, create employment and economic growth for women in Afghanistan, and have no widespread and inclusive impact on women’s lives.
The lack of proper management and close monitoring of major Afghan women empowerment projects has been one of the main challenges facing institutions, and many times, the weak management of Afghanistan has denied their trustworthy support.
Moreover, it is imperative to realize that women empowerment is not only political and economic, but also a cultural field for empowering women and creating equal opportunities for them. One of the main challenges of the ineffectiveness of women’s empowerment programs is not paying attention to the cultural dimensions of the problem.
The Afghan community is a closed society, and women’s work and employment in many parts of the country are still taboo, and not only do men prevent women from working, but many women themselves do go outside their houses and work. This shows that as long as the culture and beliefs of the society do not change towards women, sexual discrimination will not be eliminated, and as a result, opportunities for the emergence of women’s capabilities will not be created.
In the first step, the Afghan government must strive to change the minds of the public in remote areas of Afghanistan that are beyond the control of social networks, TVs and other media, and then balance women’s empowerment programs across the country. Conducting multiple symposia abroad and inside the country does not lead to awareness and empowerment of women in Afghanistan and has no effect on the life of a rural woman.
(Sahar News)

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