Afghanistan: Rights & Democracy sets up Kabul Office to administer Women’s Rights Fund


Two staff members of Rights & Democracy are in Kabul to assess the role of women in peacebuilding and reconstruction with a view to setting up an office to administer a Women’s Rights Fund for Afghanistan.

MONTREAL  –  23 September, 2002  –  As the women of post-Taliban Afghanistan struggle with the country’s new challenges, two staff members of Rights & Democracy are in Kabul to assess the role of women in peacebuilding and reconstruction with a view to setting up an office to administer a Women’s Rights Fund for Afghanistan.

Ariane Brunet and Isabelle Solon Helal of Rights & Democracy’s Women’s Rights Programme and a Kabul-based project coordinator will meet with Afghan government officials, local and international NGOs and other officials during their 10-day stay.

The $500,000 year-long project is financed by the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) Peacebuilding Fund and is the result of meetings held between Dr. Sima Samar of Afghanistan, Rights & Democracy, Canadian government officials, including Prime Minister Jean Chr?tien. Dr. Samar, who was the winner of Rights & Democracy’s annual human rights prize last year, was appointed Afghanistan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Women’s Affairs while in Canada to accept the award in December 2001. She is currently Commissioner for Human Rights.

?With this project, we believe that Rights & Democracy will be able to make an important contribution to help empower women in Afghanistan and supporting their efforts to rebuild their country,? Rights & Democracy’s President Jean-Louis Roy said today. He acknowledged that the situation in the war-torn country continues to be very difficult but that Rights & Democracy is committed to see the project through.

?The first step requires a complete assessment of the situation, the setting up of a small office to administer the Fund and the establishment of advisory committees in Afghanistan and in Canada.,? said Ariane Brunet, Coordinator of the Women’s Rights Programme. Criteria and guidelines will be established for funding of the local projects and it is hoped that the fund will start providing funds to women in Afghanistan before the end of the year.

As part of its work in Kabul, Rights & Democracy will also follow-up on the promises of the Tokyo donor countries who have pledged billions for the reconstruction of Afghanistan but who have yet to deliver the promised aid. The issue of security also looms large as the Afghan government and NGOs have been urging deployment of peacekeepers outside Kabul to ensure an end to the fighting so that reconstruction of the country can begin in earnest.

Rights & Democracy has urged the Security Council to increase the peacekeeping forces to at least 30,000 and to deploy peace troops throughout the country with instructions to disarm warring factions. Although the mandate of the International Security Assistance Force was extended the small peacekeeping force is deployed only in Kabul. The Women’s Rights Programme of Rights & Democracy focuses on issues related to violence against women, in particular, violations of women’s human rights in conflict situations, including impunity and peacebuilding issues. For the past 10 years, it has worked on developing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women as well as mainstreaming women’s human rights at all levels within the United Nations system.