A $280 Million U.S. Aid Program Was Supposed To Help 75,000 Afghan Women. It Helped 60.

The "largest women's empowerment program" was supposed to benefit 75,000 women.



Since 2015, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has spent $280 million on a program intended to help tens of thousands of Afghan women enter their country's work force and gain promotions. According to a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the program has helped somewhere between no women and roughly 60.

USAID's "Promote" program is the agency's "largest women's empowerment program in [USAID] history," according to the program's website. It was supposed to train Afghan women to enter the private and public sectors, and then help them become eligible for promotions in their fields. And it was intended to extend those training and hiring benefits to 75,000 Afghan women.

But SIGAR found that in the three years since Promote's 2015 founding, the number of women who found "new or better" employment was closer to 55. SIGAR added that it could not conclusively credit the women's successes to the program. SIGAR also reported that it is "unclear" whether or not the Afgan government will choose to support the program "as the Afghan government might not be able to hire all of Promote's graduates." It is also "unclear whether the graduates will obtain jobs in the private sector in large numbers due to the country's low projected economic growth rate."

SIGAR head John L. Sopko told The New York Times that women's groups found the program to be "poorly designed and oversold." The program is scheduled to end in 2020, giving it only two years to meet its goal.

Despite the SIGAR report, USAID maintains that the program "directly benefited 50,000 Afghan women with the training and support they need to engage in advocacy for women's issues, enter the work force and start their own businesses."

We can add Promote's underwhelming results to a long list of expensive, wasteful, and unsuccessful attempts by the U.S. to help reconstruct Afghanistan. As Sopko testified before the Senate in May, the U.S. has spent $126 billion on reconstruction efforts since 2002. Some of the projects that contributed to this high figure included a $43 million gas station, a $456,669 firing range that "began to disintegrate" due to poor construction and "substandard bricks and other building materials," a $60 million Marriott that was "uninhabited and uninhabitable," and a $60 million power-transmission project that cannot operate due to a lack of a power source.

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  1. Nothing.Left.To.Cut.

    Maybe those federal employees wouldn’t have a wage freeze if we didn’t piss away money on projects like this.

  2. Obama era program fails women, blows $280 million. Blame Trump.

  3. Sam Kinison had it right. Just give them some luggage, so they can GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE.

  4. Well within the margin of error. Plus, we have $280 million of cash infused into the economy. That kind of economic stimulus is something you just can’t buy.

    1. This comment wins because it’s funny on several levels.

      1. Which level are we on?

        1. Hell, 4th

    2. The Swiss economy?

  5. We fell a little short of our target but can we really put a price on the enhanced quality of life delivered to those sixty women? I think not.

    1. Crusty would have done it for free.

  6. “Since 2015, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has spent $280 million on a program intended to help tens of thousands of Afghan women enter their country’s work force and gain promotions.”

    Outside of some over-funded nitwit, I doubt anyone could come up with a reason the US should have been involved with that at all.

    1. This might be the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.

  7. A $280 Million U.S. Aid Program Was Supposed To Help 75,000 Afghan Women. It Helped 60.

    The fact that it helped any is a vast improvement over previous government aid programs. We should consider this a huge success and move on.

    1. Or double down…

  8. Im curious to know how the $280 million was actually spent?
    Where did it go?
    What goods and services were actually purchased?

    It has to take a certain kind of talent to fall that far short of your mission statement.

  9. I think I found part of the problem. On their website, Under Opportunities > Jobs, there are none listed. And the homepage has this disingenuous disclaimer:

    Disclaimer: The information provided on this Web site is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

  10. If my math is correct, each of the 60 women received around $4.6 million. That’s life-changing even here, much less over there.

    But I wonder how much each ACTUALLY received…My guess is it’s probably closer to $4.60 a piece.

    But why NOT have government take over more and more stuff? It is such a model of efficiency!

  11. I’m sure the money went into the hands it was intended to go. Not necessarily not the people you would think.

    But maybe the people we on H&R would think.

  12. At least those 60 women all have Medicare now.

  13. Look, we need to respect Afghani culture that states that women are basically property. Even if they come over to the U.S. to live, work, and become citizens. Right? I mean, that is what multiculturalism says isn’t it?

    I mean, the rich-as-shit Saudi that come to the U.S. keep their slav…I mean women…locked up in compounds and that’s just what tolerance is all about isn’t it?


    For real though, anyone that thought this money would go to ‘helping women’ clearly had no idea who they were dealing with.

    It is also “unclear whether the graduates will obtain jobs in the private sector in large numbers due to the country’s low projected economic growth rate.”

    AAAHHAHAHAHAHA yeah that’s the reason. ‘Low economic growth’, not ‘women don’t have civil liberties’. See, this is why the first world is full of a bunch of idiots. They just can not understand that the United States really is that much further along the curve.

  14. A little patting of my own back, here. My church, Hillside Nazarene in Kent, a Seattle suburb, has had a sewing machine class for Afghan women for two years now. My wife and I cleaned and outfitted a nearby space as a playroom for the women’s children. Our church is probably the most multi-cultural in the nation, largely because our community of Kent has been a refugee magnet receiving huge influxes from Ukraine, Russia, Sudan, Central and South America, Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, India, Egypt, Bangladesh, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Congo, and Afghanistan over the decades since the 1970’s.

    Our project for the Afghan women received no federal assistance.

    1. See, now that is the libertarian solution right there. Do it yourself along with your community (if they want to help), not via the government.

  15. Has the US Government, the UN, or any such entity ever delivered any significant good to a substantial number of people with any kind of aid program? Since the Marshall Plan?

  16. A long time ago in a different career, I shipped pallets of food for some Catholic charities to somewhere IN Nicaragua (they only paid us to get it to the airport as the rest of the trip included donkeys and canoeing over lakes and other things to get from there to whatever lawless area the office was intended.

    Note here – they had to trust local porters, had no way to protect against theft or anything else, but found roughly 1/2 gets stolen so they just send twice what’s needed.

    So for those playing the home game: Catholic charities without a military or CIA or NBA or FBI or any resources comparable to the US bats .500.

    This US program is batting whatever non-existent percentage 60/75,000 becomes.

  17. That sounds about right. Such inefficiencies hold true for most government agencies, no?

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