Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, visited Afghanistan this week and announced that the UK is pledging £4.5 million to increase women’s participation in democracy.
The new funding will help more than 50 female MPs and 100 female provincial councillors with training in essential political skills and will go to encouraging women to vote and take part in the 2014 Presidential and Provincial elections and the 2015 Parliamentary elections.
Despite recent progress in women’s rights in Afghanistan, women still face very significant challenges, from physical violence to psychological abuse. A 2012 survey by the Asia Foundation found that almost half (46%) of those surveyed believed that men should advise or be consulted before a woman votes.
Danny Alexander heard from Afghan women about how they are seeking to overcome these challenges and play an active role in the country’s upcoming elections.
Danny Alexander said:
“To truly rebuild Afghanistan, we have to get women voting and standing for election. Women are the key to building a democratic and safe country. They are the future of Afghanistan. Having taken Afghanistan out of the hands of terrorists, we are now working hard to return it to the people. This extra funding will help women lead the way.”
“Education is a key part of improving the lives of Afghanistan’s women and girls. It is critical to upholding women’s rights and improving their job opportunities. There are no short-term, quick-fix solutions.
“Around six million children regularly attend school. This includes well over two million girls, compared with virtually none under the Taliban. The support which the UK is providing to education and female participation in elections will play a big part in improving the lives of generations of Afghan women and girls.”