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Reducing violence against women in Afghanistan

July 9, 2012

Australia will take a lead in reducing domestic and community violence against women in Afghanistan, with $17.7 million to change community attitudes and reduce the incidence of retribution attacks for female participation in society.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr said despite recent gains, Afghanistan remained a challenging environment for women and girls seeking to attend schools or take part in civic or political life.

“The challenges facing Afghan women under the Taliban cannot be understated,” Senator Carr said.

“This was one of the worst countries in the world to be born female.

“Under the Taliban there were no female students in schools, and barely one in ten women could read.

“Participation in civic life was banned, and medical services like antenatal care were effectively absent.

“We’ve made strong gains – for example, with nearly three million girls in primary education and 29 female-only schools in Uruzgan Province – constructed with Australian aid.

“But there’s more to be done, especially in reducing domestic violence. We’ll be building on existing gains, with programs potentially supporting women’s shelters, legal aid and employment opportunities.

“We’ve made progress on women’s health and education – these additional funds would improve female safety and access to a fair interpretation of the law.”

Senator Carr said Australia’s assistance to date has delivered:

• support for more than 30 female health professionals and more than 80 community health workers;
• antenatal visits for 80 percent of pregnant women in Uruzgan;
• training on legal rights for 13,000 home bound women in two rural provinces: and
• 40 scholarships and training for female teachers to study overseas and return to teach in Afghan schools.

Female life expectancy in Afghanistan is 44 years, with more than 4,000 deaths a year from pregnancy-related causes. Despite recent gains, adult women literacy rates are among the world’s worst at barely 12 percent.

Australia is a major contributor to Afghan aid, with more than $250m committed per year from 2015-16 as part of a global commitment of $16 billion over the next four years.

  1. sheree waks permalink
    July 9, 2012 1:33 pm

    This is the single most important issue facing Afghanistan (ahead even of governance and tribal issues) so these kinds of initiatives are to be commended. Advancements to women’s rights and education will of course lead to improvements in other areas as well, once women are able to properly participate in the affairs of their society, without constant harassment and fear of physical violence. At present, I’m afraid it still IS “one of the worst countries in the world to be born female”.

  2. July 9, 2012 2:01 pm

    Females everywhere have a less than equal opportunity anywhere on a planet dominated and ruled by males. This is not just unfair it is ignorantly stupid. Apart from her equality in intelligence, proven superior communication skills, ability to multi-focus, superior nuturer and carer, with the female gender being the essential part in human pro-creation, you’d obviously reason that males would honour their human female partners wouldn’t we? The grossest in contemporary news is the latest criminal atrocity with the execution of a young female who exterminated because, allegedly, two male tribal leaders shared her sexually and fought over her. I just hope my grand-daughters can, as adults, can live in a world where their gender is not a barrier in any part of their lives.

  3. C Lamb permalink
    July 9, 2012 4:12 pm

    Bob, this is great, and as it happens I’m having dinner on Friday with Nouria Salehi, who runs the Afghan Australian Development Organisation. It’s a terrific NGO which does wonderful things for and with Afghan women and she wants to talk to me about her latest proposal. She has had AusAid support in the past, and I think she does things which are great and sit well within your objectives. I can provide more info if you wish.

    • Bob Carr permalink*
      July 9, 2012 10:29 pm

      Would like to see it. Thanks. Bob

      • C Lamb permalink
        July 19, 2012 9:55 pm

        Bob, I had a good and useful dinner with Nouria, and she has now written to you about her proposal. She has some pretty clear views about the best ways of supporting community resilience projects in Afghanistan, and if you can fit it into your next visit to Melbourne I would love to take you to her restaurant for two things – great Afghan food and a really good conversation. / Chris

      • Bob Carr permalink*
        July 20, 2012 3:06 am

        Looking forward to it.

  4. July 9, 2012 6:28 pm

    I agree with Waks above – as Valerie Hudson et al argue in Sex and World Peace – international peace and security hinges on womens’ peace and security. This is not ‘soft’ power – this is smart power (to quote Secretary of State Clinton).

  5. Les permalink
    July 9, 2012 10:53 pm

    How the hell are youj going to change these violence issues in Afghanistan? They have been acting like this for thousands of years! These “traditions” have passed from father to son for longer than you and I have been around and obviously continue today with the current story in the headlines! Very very sad that 50% of the community has to literally live in fear of their lives!

    • July 10, 2012 2:19 pm

      Les – it will change with the education each generation of daughters. Just look how our Western generation of lives of females (and males) have improved over the last century.

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