Mass Poverty Is Back in Afghanistan as Women Are Not Allowed to Work

“I come from a single-income family but I have lost my job. Now we wonder what to do next and where to go!”

The above sentence is the comment of a Facebook user given to one of the reports of 8 Subh Daily. The problem, however, is not unique to that specific Facebook user. There are countless women in Afghanistan who have been deprived of their husbands by four decades of war, and they provide expenses for their families. With the rise of the Taliban, poverty in Afghanistan is likely to reach its peak.

Despite widespread corruption in the previous regime, employed women accounted for between 24 and 30 percent of government employees. In addition, thousands of women worked in private companies, institutions, and foreign embassies.

By the end of 2019, the total number of government employees was 412,000, of whom 101,216 were women, according to figures released by the Afghan National Statistics and Information Agency (NSIA).

Thousands of women also worked in the security services, providing for their families. According to these statistics, the Afghan National Police (ANP) had about 150,328 members, of which 3,071 were women. In the National Army, out of 184,489 members, 1,265 were ladies. If we take into account the women working in the former National Directorate of National Security (NDS), this number undoubtedly will increase.

Also, by the end of 2019, there were 647 judges and 331 female prosecutors in the judiciary.

However, most women worked in the ministries of women’s affairs and education. About 29% of the total staff of the Ministry of Education were reportedly women. Of the 281,000 employees of the Department of Education, about 85,000 were women, according to the NSIA. In addition, about 2,000 female employees worked in the previous government’s Ministry of Higher Education.

These women were either the sole breadwinners of their families or, along with the men of the family, contributed to the families’ livelihoods due to high price of consuming goods and low incomes. Now that almost all of these women have been deprived of employment opportunities, the economies of nearly 150,000 families have been affected. In the same way, the income of many of them has been completely cut off.

According to the above statistics, if we include the female employees of companies, institutions and embassies, tens of thousands of other women will be added to this list.

The rising number of unemployed people will eventually lead us to a poorer society. Similarly, the government’s income through the livelihood tax will also be drastically reduced in such a society. Eventually, this will cause serious problems for the future government in terms of financing. In addition, as government revenue declines, services will not be delivered. This will increase dissatisfaction and increase legal and illegal immigration. For this reason, the unemployment of working women is not just a problem for their families. This is a big social problem and if it continues to exist, the lives of everyone in the country will be affected.

On the other hand, since 2014, about 60,000 security forces have been killed. The other side of the war has suffered the same number of casualties. The families of soldiers killed during the war received at least half of their salaries from the government. The fate of whether or not such wages are paid to such families is unclear. These families have no financial supporter as well. To manage a mass poverty, the Taliban must allow women to work, and provide homeless women with jobs in the market and government.

Given the dramatic population growth, outflow of investorsو and limited resources in the country, poverty and hunger – if not the main problem of the country – is at least one of the main problems that must be addressed immediately. By employing women alongside men, a “possible hunger strike” is also prevented. Otherwise, it is not unlikely that this protest will take place in the country. Once mass poverty prevails, there is no chance for the Taliban to plan and execute. It is good to pay attention to this issue now, and the best solution is to allow working women to continue working. Create new jobs, at least for homeless women.

An increase in hunger is now clearly visible in some parts of Kabul. In the evening in front of the bakeries, long lines of men, women and children are formed, waiting for someone to buy them a loaf of bread. The number of beggars in the city has increased significantly. Every day we see many women, men, and children begging in the streets, shops, and in front of people’s houses. When families do not have a breadwinner, begging is the only option.