KABUL’s empowerment was slammed on Thursday by a watchdog as a flop and a waste of taxpayers’ dollars.
The programme, which was described as the world’s biggest project for female empowerment, aimed to help 75,000 Afghan women get jobs, promotions and internships.
However, Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction John L. Sopko said in a report: “We can’t find any good data that they’re helping any women.”
The promotion of 55 women to better jobs was cited one of the few concrete results in the report, which said that it was unclear whether the project could even be credited for the promotions.
“We can’t find any good data that they’re helping any women,” said Sopko, head of the agency that was set up by Congress to oversee America’s spending in Afghanistan.
Afghan women’s groups, including First Lady Rula Ghani, have faulted the programme that was poorly designed and oversold, the SIGAR was quoted as saying by The New York Times.
In a 2016 interview with the agency, she charged that most of the project funds would go to administrative costs and American contractors instead of Afghan women.
According to NYT, the fresh report voiced concern that security for three contractors and overhead costs amounted to 18 percent of the $89 million disbursed so far.
Sopko characterised the project as a classic example of hubris and mendacity. “Raj Shah and his people at USAID oversold it, lied to the taxpayer and the American and Afghan people about what we could accomplish.”
Rajiv Shah was USAID administrator when Promote was launched. “Working in conflict settings to help girls go to school and bring health care to vulnerable women is absolutely essential,” Shah said in response to Sopko’s remarks.
USAID hoped to persuade other countries to contribute and bring total funding to $416 million over five years, in addition to the American funding that eventually totaled $280 million, the ex-administrator said.
Not a single other country has donated to the initiative despite the passage of five years later, according to the SIGAR report.
“I feel sorry for the poor Afghan women, who are saying, ‘Where’s my private sector job? Where’s my government job?’” Sopko remarked.