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  • Writer's pictureAlina Stehle

Financial hope for women in Afghanistan: €140 million aid from the EU Commission

The European Commission will resume aid to women and girls in Afghanistan, two years after the Taliban retook control of the country.

The EU Commission has granted €140 million for education, health, agriculture and women's economic empowerment. The money will be transferred to Afghanistan through UN agencies, the World Bank and international aid organisations. The EU has stressed that, although it will provide financial assistance, it still does not recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government.

The EU had frozen the funds in December 2022 after the Taliban banned women from working for NGOs. The provision of the €140 million is therefore a great symbolic and financial help for the citizens of Afghanistan.

"We are very happy about the current development. It is desperately needed, because in the last two years we have seen a catastrophe in Afghanistan that I have not seen in the last twenty years of my work," says Christina Ihle, director of the Afghan Women's Association in Hamburg.

One of the school projects of the Afghans women’s association in Kabul, Afghanistan

Currently, one in two children in Afghanistan is malnourished. Christina argues that the poverty is caused by the fact that most of Afghanistan's national budget used to be funded by international aid. These funds were cut off overnight when the Taliban took over, which unfortunately affected the civilian population more than the Taliban, she says.

She believes the money provided by the EU is a crucial symbolic gesture. "The money and the pledges are very important, but unfortunately they came far too late. The country and the population were left completely alone,” Ihle says.

Her work brings her into daily contact with the people of Afghanistan. News of the aid money has caused mixed feelings among the people. According to her, the relief is visible, but the girls and women often remain cautious because in the past, despite promises, no help has reached them.

Parisa Mehrazar is a women's rights activist and journalist who fled to Germany. She believes that the money is desperately needed by the women and girls in Afghanistan. But she also expresses concerns: "Unfortunately, I think it is also possible that the money will be wasted and will have no effect on the women in Afghanistan.”

Parisa Mehrazar protesting with other Afghan women against the Taliban

Someone who is every day confronted with the restrictions on women imposed by the Taliban is Amira (50). She has asked to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions from the authorities in Kabul, where she is currently living. "There have been many changes in our lives and restrictions that limit my personal freedom," says Amira.

She used to work as a mathematics teacher before the Taliban banned women from working. Things like going to amusement parks, playing sports, the right to education, travelling alone or to choose for yourself what you want to wear became impossible, Amira explains.

She tells The Groninger, that the European Commission's help could be an opportunity to strengthen women's economic base and help them to become self-sustaining. In order to ensure that the money actually benefits women, it is important that the implementation is monitored by the European Union, says Amira.

In the future, government aid needs to become more reliable and predictable. The abrupt stop of funding has done a lot of damage to society, and it will take time to rebuild the Afghan people's trust in institutions like the EU.

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