Female public servants fear starvation amid salary cut row

KABUL (SW) – A number of women who are busy working in government offices have told Salam Watandar that the proposed decree to lower salaries could put them at risk of starvation.

This comes following a decree by Hebatullah Akhundzada, the leader of the Islamic Emirate, regarding the reduction of the salary of female employees in government offices.

For this report, 58 women in 12 provinces were interviewed. The results of this interview show that with the implementation of the plan to reduce the salary of female employees, 50% of the interviewees will not be able to meet their basic needs.

24 interviewees in this report said that the implementation of this plan could put them and their family members at risk of starvation.

Nine women participated in this interview from Jowzjan, five women each from Kabul, Nangarhar, Takhar, Badghis, Farah, Badakhshan and Sar-e pol, four women each from Kapisa and Faryab, and three women each from Bamyan and Kunduz.

29 of the respondents in this report are teachers, 11 are employees of the health sector, 4 are employees of the Ministry of Education, 2 are employees of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, 2 are employees of the Directorate of Women’s Affairs, and 5 are employees of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Repatriations and Refugees (MoRR), Interior Affairs, and municipality. Six of the interviewees did not want to name the department they work for.

Nazifa Mumtaz, an employee of the health sector in Kabul, says that she felt mentally ill after hearing about the salary reduction. “My husband is sick and I am the breadwinner of my family; Our livelihood has been going on for a month and nothing has been added; It was written that ‘your salary has decreased to 5000 Afghanis’; After that, I was diagnosed with a nerve problem that I don’t even have the money to treat,” she added.

Parwana, a teacher in one of the public schools in Badakhshan, says that she is the head of her family and cannot meet his needs with a salary of 5,000 Afghanis. She adds: “I don’t know what to do with 5000 Afghanis; My biggest concern is providing for my family’s needs; Because I am the head of the family; how to spend five thousand for a month and this issue has affected my mood a lot.”

Saeeda, a resident of Farah who is an employee of the Directorate of Labour and Social Affairs, says that the reduction of her salary will increase her economic problems. “I am the head of my family of seven; With a salary of 5000 Afghanis, my problems increases; For example, I can’t pay the rent of my house and meet other necessities of my life.”

Shakiba, a resident of Badakhshan who works in the municipality of the province, says that she will not be able to take care of her and her family’s needs if the plan to reduce the salary of female employees is implemented. “It’s very concerning for me,” she adds. “Because the salary I get now can’t meet my life’s needs. If it becomes 5000, it will cause me economic problems and I am not sure that I will be able to continue my life with this much of money.”

Somaya, a resident of Badghis who works in the health sector, says: “I studied medical profession for seven years; If my salary is to be reduced, it is a great injustice and there is no need for me to work here. Now my salary is 30 thousand afghanis, but we cannot live with these 5000 afghanis.”

Royena Rajabi, a teacher in Kunduz, says: “It has caused me great concern; How can I live the life of a family of 12 people with an income of 5000 Afghanis? How do I pay the house rent, water and electricity bills? This is really hard for us.

Women’s rights activists, worried about the implementation of the plan to reduce the salary of female employees, say that if this plan is implemented, women will suffer more. They ask the Islamic Emirate not to implement the decision to reduce the salary of female employees.

Women’s rights activist Forozan Dawoodzai says: “It is a big problem for all Afghan women, especially women who are responsible for their families; because 5000 Afghanis is a small amount of money, and how can women who are the breadwinners of their families lead their lives.”

Amena Hashemi, an expert on economic issues, says that the decrease in the salary of female employees will surge poverty and reduce the economic ability of families.

“If this restriction of salary for women continues, poverty will increase and the economic cycle will slow down. The number of people who are facing the risk of starvation and severe crisis in Afghanistan is increasing. The government should have an alternative that will take into account other points in front of the reduction of the salary,” she added.

After the collapse of the republic, the Islamic Emirate has asked women to stay at home until further notice, and their allowance will be paid by the de-facto government.