Employment discrimination in Afghanistan takes place at an alarming rate and needs immediate attention from the government and policymakers.
Employment discrimination results from an integrated chain of multifaceted factors, including the patron-client system, corruption, and nepotism, within both the public and private sectors.
The legal environment is conducive to elevating employment discrimination. Some efforts to change this have taken place, though not sufficiently.
To tackle the problem, the victims of discrimination should be identified, and a quota system should be introduced to give them more chances.
Civil servants, managers, and the labor force should be aware of the long term effects of employment discrimination through continuous education mechanisms.
Afghanistan is a country with one of the highest rates of unemployment in the region. Poverty and lack of government ability to create employment opportunities have both contributed to the problem. Unemployment feeds corruption, increases white-collar crime, criminal activities, mental health issues, and even upsurges in youths joining criminal gangs and even terrorist organizations for economic gains. Keeping in mind that the country enjoys having an educated young generation graduating yearly from universities and schools, there is a slightly increased unemployment rate within the population compared to past decades. Unemployment can be considered to be a crisis for the country.
In countries such as Afghanistan, unbalanced development, government investments, lack of transparent local governance, and insecurity have contributed to the concentration of control over important recruitment into the hands of influential individuals instead of a well-regulated system. Politicians tend to be biased to their constituents and personalities that helped them with their position to stay in the government. These elements together contribute to an increase in employment discrimination.
Several victims of this phenomenon claimed that almost no one in the country has been able to get hired unless they are politically connected. In recent years, finding employment opportunities or getting recruited into the government without a network and contact has almost become impossible. The critical factors contributing to discrimination in Afghanistan are politically motivated appointments, low pay for civil servants (which eventually leads to many forms of corruption), nepotism, gender-based discrimination, and the ethnic and linguistic preferences of the recruiting agency.
Current Legal Context:
The 2004 Constitution of Afghanistan, as the primary law of the country, states in Article Twenty-Two that any discrimination and distinction between citizens of Afghanistan shall be forbidden. The citizens of Afghanistan, men, and women have equal rights and duties before the law.
Furthermore, the Constitution refers to the Labor Law to explain the necessary measures to establish employment relations. The second paragraph of Article Two of Labor Law explicitly considers job equality and protecting the employee's rights. Under this law, Afghan citizens are guaranteed the right to work, fair treatment, equitable pay, pensions, health, and safety at the workplace.
Article 10 of the 2008 Civil Servants Law indicates that civil servants' rights and duties are ratified to clarify civil servants' rights and responsibilities in Afghanistan. This code also clearly stated that "no form of discrimination is allowed in recruiting civil servants based on gender, ethnicity, religion, and disability."
The main factors contributing to discrimination in employment include
The factors and problems mentioned above regarding employment discrimination have or will contribute to the following issues which in the long-term will severely harm the governance and national security of Afghanistan:
To tackle the problem of employment discrimination as a whole and its effects, the following policy points are suggested:
Sonia Azatyar is a member of the 2020/21 Young Leaders Forum.
This article has also been published in Dari by Afghanistan Today. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and not necessarily those of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.