Unrestricted access to work for Afghan women is about human rights and economic sense

Kabul 15 August 2022 - A recent report from UNDP Afghanistan reveals that the country lost some US$ 4 billion in the last ten months, which took ten years to accumulate.

August 15, 2022

UNDP Afghanistan’s ‘One Year in Review’ indicates that the country’s economy has been steadily declining since 2008 and contracted sharply after August 2021. Despite limited gains in security, steady customs revenue, comparably stable exchange rates, and the crackdown on corruption in the past 12 months, the situation in Afghanistan remains precarious.

The ongoing humanitarian and development crises continue to pose significant challenges such as frozen foreign assets, a shortage of cash, and a decline in women’s contributions to economic growth.

An earlier socio-economic assessment on Afghanistan released last October estimated that a staggering 16% of working women left the job market over the past year, which translated to a 5% drop in the country's GDP or an economic loss of up to US$1 billion.  

“Unrestricted access to work for Afghan women is not just about human rights but it is also a question of economic sense”, said Abdallah AlDardari, Resident Representative of Afghanistan.

“The Afghan people have demonstrated extraordinary resilience in the past year to survive unbearable difficulties in an economy lacking the structure for sustained, resilient, and equitable growth.”

“Without external financial support, there will be severe limits on development expenditure and poverty reduction, placing a heavy burden on the private sector to lead the resumption of growth”, added Surayo Buzurukova, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Afghanistan.

The report also finds that the cost to afford the most basic food supplies has increased 35 percent since August 2021, forcing poorer households to adopt negative strategies. One in three businesses reported having temporarily ceased operations since August 2021, and nearly 700,000 jobs are estimated to have been lost by mid-2022.

UNDP Afghanistan remains committed to ensuring the recovery and prosperity of the people of Afghanistan while complementing humanitarian efforts in the country by other UN agencies. UNDP launched an area-based approach to development emergency initiatives (ABADEI) last October, which aims to create sources of income through cash-for-work projects, and developing local markets, and livelihood opportunities with a focus on agribusiness, regenerative agriculture infrastructure, and services critical to food security.

UNDP Afghanistan will release the One Year in Review report, on 27 August.