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Afghanistan: Women

Volume 705: debated on Tuesday 4 November 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make representations to the Government of Afghanistan concerning the numbers of women forced into prostitution by extreme poverty and illiteracy. [HL5420]

We share your concern about the impact of poverty and illiteracy on women in Afghanistan and regularly work closely with the various ministries within the Afghan Government on tackling these issues. We also recognise that, while progress has been made to advance the status of women since 2001, much remains to be done. The UK therefore actively supports the promotion of women's rights in Afghanistan in a number of ways.

In 2007-08 we provided £55 million to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund to help finance the salaries of over 100,000 teachers. These resources have contributed to the increase of pupils in school from 2 million in 2002 to around 6 million enrolled today. A third of the pupils in school are now girls, up from virtually none under the Taliban. This has helped to address the problem of widespread illiteracy.

The UK gave the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission $l million to fund its three-year action plan 2006-08. This Afghan-led and run organisation has around 600 staff and has offices throughout Afghanistan. In its 2007 annual report, the commission states that it organised nearly 600 educational workshops and awareness-raising meetings for almost 20,000 people (including over 6,000 men) on women's rights issues, including tackling violence against women. The commission pays particular attention to reaching community leaders such as mullahs, elders, civil-society representatives and government officials.