By Jörg Blank, dpa I Wednesday, February 15, 2023
AFGHANISTAN – Germany wants to resume certain development projects in Afghanistan despite massive restrictions on women’s rights imposed by the ruling Taliban.
Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Svenja Schulze announced in Berlin on Wednesday that the principle of “with women for women” would be applied. The German newspaper the Süddeutsche Zeitung first reported on the decision.
The German government is committed to maintaining basic services in the country as long as women are working in and can be helped by German-financed programmes.
Schulze had temporarily suspended projects to support the basic needs of the Afghan population after the Taliban banned women from working for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the end of December.
Since then, discussions have taken place with other donors, the United Nations and the World Bank over whether and how much further support is possible.
Schulze again demanded the withdrawal of restrictions on the rights of women and girls. However, in view of the grave humanitarian crisis, Germany must remain committed to the people of Afghanistan, she said.
Afghan women and girls would be “doubly punished” if Germany suspends its development policy involvement in those areas “where women can continue to be employed and women can continue to be reached,” she said.
“Doing so would would take away jobs from women who are allowed to work and want to work, and put them at an additional disadvantage,” she said.
Last year, Germany’s Economic Cooperation and Development Ministry made a total of €187 million ($200 million) available for projects in Afghanistan. Added to this is money from previous years.
Schulze stressed that all programmes were working outside the government sphere. The ministry had already focused its projects on women and girls by the time the Taliban came to power in August 2021, meaning many of these projects can continue under the new guidelines.
The Taliban are internationally criticized for their massive curtailment of women’s rights. Among other things, girls’ schools from the seventh grade onwards have been closed across much of the country. University attendance has also been banned for women since December. In November, parks and gyms had to close to women.