Biden Admin’s $100 Million Gender Equality And Democracy Project Marred By Taliban Interference

Aamaj News Agency via REUTERS

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Robert Schmad Contributor
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People involved in the federal government’s $100 million push to introduce gender equality and democracy in Afghanistan are being arrested by the Taliban, according to a government report.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has spent roughly $102 million on its Afghan “Democracy, Gender and Rights Programs” as of April 12, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) quarterly report. The agency’s efforts have been complicated as staff, as well as individuals receiving USAID funds, have been arrested by the Taliban, and the agency’s programs have been subjected to “scrutiny from the regime’s general directorate of intelligence.”

“USAID works with trusted, international partners who have extensive experience working in challenging environments like Afghanistan,” an agency spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We require our implementers to have proper safeguards and risk-mitigation systems in place to help ensure that principled development and humanitarian aid reaches those who need it most—and that taxpayer resources are used for their intended purpose.” (RELATED: Biden State Department-Run Program Paid $1.3 Million To Taliban, Watchdog Report Finds)

USAID did not respond to a follow-up question regarding the SIGAR report.

Some details are withheld in the report “to protect the safety of staff and beneficiaries in Afghanistan,” the text reads.

USAID’s “Democracy, Gender and Rights Programs” focuses on “strengthening civil society, supporting media freedoms, and protecting human rights, with a particular focus on the rights of women and girls,” according to its website.

One initiative funded by the federal government under the program is a $21 million effort administered by UN Women to “support the re-establishment of comprehensive support services for women and girls and contribute to an enabling environment for women’s rights and women’s participation,” according to a federal grant listing. USAID is also funding programs aimed at “developing a strong cadre of female journalists” and supporting human rights activists in their “efforts to protect basic rights and freedoms and ensure access to credible media”, according to the SIGAR report.

The Taliban’s ban on secondary and higher education for females has also been an obstacle for USAID’s education programs, according to SIGAR. One such educational program, Young Women Lead, will cost about $5 million in the pursuit of assisting about 650 Afghan women complete post-secondary educational programs in “female-specific employment fields,” per a grant listing.

USAID’s gender and democracy programs are projected to have a lifetime cost of over $150 million, according to SIGAR.

Taliban walk as they celebrate ceasefire in Ghanikhel district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan June 16, 2018.REUTERS/Parwiz - RC16C7953D20

Taliban militants (REUTERS/Parwiz)

SIGAR also found in its April 30 report that the Taliban has captured $1.3 million in funds from the State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement since September 2021.

A 2021 SIGAR report found that $787.4 billion in American tax dollars had been spent to fund “activities primarily intended to support Afghan women and girls,” however female political participation in Afghanistan declined between 2004 and 2019.

“Women are essential to the development of Afghanistan and the delivery of desperately needed aid and basic services,” USAID told the DCNF. “In Afghanistan, USAID and its partners actively work to ensure that women are involved – including delivering and receiving assistance,” they went on.

SIGAR was established by Congress in 2008 to provide oversight for the billions in tax dollars flowing into Afghanistan during the war against the Taliban and has since evolved to track America’s post-withdrawal spending in the country.

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