The Taliban`s move to stop women from working could cost the Afghan economy nearly USD 1 billion, according to a new report by the United Nations Development Programme, that portrays the growing humanitarian crisis in the country. Afghanistan`s nominal GDP is likely to contract by 20 per cent within a year, from USD 20 billion in 2020 to a figure of USD 16 billion, the UNDP said in a new socio-economic report on Wednesday.
The report has warned that this decline may reach 30 per cent in the following years, or USD 14 billion, if urgent corrective action is not taken. The UN agency said annual per capita income in the country had declined from USD 650 in 2012 to USD 500 in 2020 and is expected to drop precipitously to USD 350 next year.
“This new socio-economic assessment on Afghanistan estimates that restricting women from working could result in an immediate economic loss of up to USD 1 billion – or up to five per cent of the country`s GDP,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.
“Not only is this a loss the country can ill afford but we call on the de facto authorities to uphold the rights of women and girls, including the right to learn and to work.”
Failing to invest in half of the country`s human capital – in girls` education – will have dire socio-economic consequences for years to come, according to UNDP.
The “Afghanistan: Socio-Economic Outlook 2021-2022” report released on Wednesday called for all available local resources to be mobilized, including female aid workers whose deployment is severely restricted in most provinces.
The economic modelling undertaken jointly by UNDP and independent economists indicates that with falling incomes and a growing population, it could take USD 2 billion just to lift the incomes of all people in extreme poverty up to the poverty line, the UN agency said.
An economic rapid appraisal released by UNDP in September projected that up to 97 per cent of the population may be at risk of sinking below the poverty line by 2022, unless a response to the country`s political and economic crises is urgently launched.
“We are facing the unfathomable prospect that the most basic human needs of nearly 40 million people will not be met,” said UNDP Resident Representative in Afghanistan Abdallah al Dardari.