“We as women's groups can find women in need when organisations can’t.”

Publication language
Date published
12 Jan 2024
Research, reports and studies
Accountability to affected populations (AAP), Gender
Ground Truth Solutions, Other

Since their takeover of Afghanistan in 2021, the de facto authorities have introduced several directives limiting women’s access to education, employment, and public spaces.2 In December 2022, the ban prohibiting Afghan women from working for NGOs – expanded to UN agencies in April 2023 – impeded access to aid and support for vulnerable women throughout the country.3 Although some NGOs and UN agencies navigated the decree through local exceptions and continued their operations, 2023 saw the introduction of new bans further reducing support for projects aiming to reach women and girls.4 In July 2023, the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan was critically underfunded, with less than half the amount received as the same time in 2022.5 The World Food Programme had to cut food assistance to two million people. 

Against this backdrop, engaging with women and men is critical to ensuring the humanitarian response is tailored to their respective needs and priorities. To strengthen accountability to women and girls in Afghanistan, in September 2023, Ground Truth Solutions and Salma Consulting completed their third round of data collection with support from UN Women and the Gender in Humanitarian Action Working Group. They surveyed 1,897 people and spoke with 68 people in more depth through 10 focus group discussions and 15 in-depth interviews.

The study found that: 

  • Women feel safer accessing distributions, since the adoption of approaches to mitigate safety concerns;
  • Selecting aid recipients through community leaders is seen as opaque and unfair;
  • Women rely on organic social networks to access and circulate information on aid;
  • Community-based women’s groups offer valuable and grassroots entry points into communities, offering organisations safe and acceptable opportunities to engage with and understand the needs and priorities of women;
  • Women favour broader coverage and longer-term support;
  • Households continue to resort to negative coping mechanisms such as early marriage and child labour when they have exhausted other options; and
  •  •People want aid providers to prioritise resilience and livelihoods.