Transforming women-headed households with cash assistance
Contribution from Afghanaid
Whilst life is often tough in her remote village, Zulikha (not her real name) always strove to give her children the best life possible. Living in a small community in Badakhshan with her eight family members, her husband’s passing several years ago made it even harder for Zulikha to provide for her family: facing large social stigma, exclusion and a lack of support. Nevertheless, she managed.
Earlier this year, the harsh conditions coupled with the recent economic collapse and change of power made Zulikha’s role as a caregiver more difficult than it has ever been: “I didn’t have anything to feed my children. There was not even a drop of oil in my home and I didn’t have anything to warm them during the winter season.” Unfortunately, situations such as Zulikha’s are all too common. Almost 100 per cent of women-headed households do not eat enough food to sustain their daily needs, and soaring food and fuel prices made it even tougher to purchase basic necessities.
Due to a lack of employment opportunities and restrictive gender roles, households headed by women are often heavily reliant on humanitarian assistance. Living in a remote, hard-to-access community compounds these difficulties; women like Zulikha do not have access to markets, hospitals and other community infrastructure that may provide extra support.
Unable to sufficiently feed her family or herself, the effects of Zulikha’s struggle on her mental and physical health were severe: “I had lots of stress, I even got high blood pressure and I didn’t want to come home because my children were asking for food from me but I was not able to provide for them.”
Luckily, Zulikha was introduced to Afghanaid’s support, which had not abated despite treacherous conditions, and their cash assistance scheme transformed her family’s situation. Cash assistance gives Afghan men and women the ability to maintain autonomy and agency when receiving humanitarian support, allowing them to allocate these funds in ways best suited to their family’s needs, and respond to the multifaceted issues they face in a far less restrictive manner. Zulikha knew how best to ensure her family were fed, kept warm and safe during the winter, and through this support, was able to do just that.
We recently caught up with Zulikha to learn what this cash support meant to her at that very difficult time: “I managed to buy wheat, rice, oil and wood for heating. I also paid my debts which made me very happy, I cannot express my feelings because I am just really happy for their support...Our family is very happy and we thank Afghanaid.”
Since August 2021, Afghanaid has reached more than 1.1 million people with humanitarian assistance, including thousands of vulnerable families with multi-purpose cash to lift their families out of difficult circumstances. Support such as this is averting an even worse humanitarian crisis and ensuring millions of Afghan families avoid starvation. With continued support, we can help even more widows, single mothers and female-heads of households keep their children safe.
Since August 2021, Afghanaid has so far reached [over one million] people with humanitarian assistance, including supporting thousands of vulnerable families with multipurpose cash to lift their families out of difficult circumstances. With continued support, [Afghanaid] can help even more widows, single mothers and female-heads of households keep their children safe.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.