The U.S. government has blown almost $90 million on a doomed project to help Afghan women enter the workforce with a big chunk of the money going to a Clinton-aligned “development” company that reaped big bucks from Uncle Sam while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
The cash flows through the famously corrupt U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID), which is charged with providing global economic, development and humanitarian assistance. In this case USAID allocated $216 million to supposedly help tens of thousands of Afghan women get jobs and gain promotions over five years. Known as “Promoting Gender Equity in National Priority Programs,” the endeavor was launched in 2014 and tens of millions of dollars later it’s proven to be a major failure.
Someone must be pocketing the cash because the costly program has helped between zero and 60 women. This isn’t a joke, though it sounds like a bad one. All the dirty details are laid out in a scathing federal audit released this month by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
Investigators found that around 55 women got “new or better” jobs in three years and they can’t even fully credit the U.S.-backed program for the women’s prosperities. SIGAR writes that it found “multiple problems” in the program, including security, staffing and economic conditions in Afghanistan.
“In addition, SIGAR found that USAID/Afghanistan’s records on the contractors’ required deliverables were incomplete and inaccurate because the agency’s management did not give contracting officer’s representatives enough guidance on record keeping,” the report states. Of interesting note is that one of the biggest contracts went to a company, Chemonics International, with close ties to the Clintons. The Washington-based development firm was awarded $38 million, according to the figures included in the SIGAR report.
“Chemonics thrived during Clinton’s tenure, nabbing more contracts during the Haiti reconstruction effort than any other company,” a 2015 news report reveals. “Peter Schweizer noted the extensive Clinton connections to development failures in Haiti in his book, Clinton Cash.”
Here’s a nugget from this month’s SIGAR report that illustrates how poorly this boondoggle was planned by the government; even when the Afghan women complete the program, there are not jobs waiting for them. The audit reveals that the Afghan government won’t sustain the program, referred to as Promote, because it can’t hire all the 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,” the report states. “This raises questions about whether Promote is sustainable at all and could put USAID’s investment in the program in jeopardy.” So, the U.S. government is spending enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars to train women in a crime-infested, third-world country for jobs that don’t exist. Afghanistan has a poverty rate of 39.1 %, according to the World Bank, and an unemployment rate of 22.6%.
The security situation has worsened and civilian casualties are at their highest since 2002, with an unprecedented level of conflict-induced displacement.
Nevertheless, in the summer of 2013 the Obama administration announced it was launching the “largest women’s empowerment program in [USAID] history.” The goal was to advance opportunities for Afghan women to become political, private sector, and civil society leaders and to build upon existing and previous programs for women and girls. Of course, this requires a lot of money so the administration allocated the $216 million to get the job done.
The money was supposed to educate, promote and train a new generation of Afghan women in order to increase their contributions to the country’s development. “Promote strengthens women’s rights groups,” USAID proclaims, and boosts female participation in the economy while increasing the number of women in decision making positions within the Afghan government. It also helps women gain business and management skills. The SIGAR report identifies Promote as the “largest single investment to advance women globally.”
A few years ago, Judicial Watch reported on another scandalous USAID program aimed at helping women in Afghanistan escape repression. After spending a whopping $64.8 million on 652 projects, programs and initiatives, a federal audit determined lack of accountability and follow up made it impossible to know if they made a difference. That disastrous project was also funded by the departments of State and Defense and federal investigators found that none of the three agencies had effective mechanisms for tracking the funding associated with the projects.