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Ending global poverty begins with women’s rights

Karzai’s government must deliver on schools, midwives and police

Karzai’s government must deliver on schools, midwives and police

May 10, 2010

The new
Afghan government must urgently build up to 6,000 new schools, train upwards of
5,000 new midwives and professionalize the police force, according to aid
agencies working throughout Afghanistan. Their set of recommendations to the
new Afghan administration, contained in a report called ‘Memo to the
President
, also highlight reforms needed in governance.

‘Our recommendations are
ambitious, given the increasing violence in Afghanistan. But they are not
impossible, said Grace Ommer, head of Oxfam in Afghanistan. ‘Over the last
eight years, Afghanistan has made significant progress, enrolling more than six
million children in primary school and expanding access to healthcare by 40 per
cent. ‘Positive change can happen in
Afghanistan, but there must be political will in Kabul and long term support
from the international community.

The
recommendations highlighted the progress made for women since the fall of the
Taliban while noting that many of these fragile and limited gains are in
serious danger of being reversed. Oxfam said the government should secure the
rights of women enshrined in the Afghan constitution, such as the Elimination
of Violence Against Women act, which criminalizes rape and provides greater
protection for female survivors of violence.

The report
says government appointments must be made on merit and that human rights and
criminal records are thoroughly checked. Access to equitable justice remains
limited and despite modest improvements in the Afghan National Police, the
force needs more reforms, such as better oversight and improvements in pay.

‘Afghans
overwhelmingly want their government to deliver basic services and maintain law
and order, said
Mirwais Wardak, Program Director for Cooperation for Peace and Unity (CPAU).
‘Too much waste and inefficiency and a lack of access to justice has frustrated
Afghans and undermined confidence in the government.

As the
Afghan National Security Forces start to take on more military operations
protecting civilians should also be a priority for the new government. There
should be more checks and balances to prevent abuses and to investigate abuses when
they do occur. An autonomous forensic unit should be set up to address
allegations that pro-government forces have killed or injured civilians.

Mary Akrami, head of the
Afghan Women’s Skills Development Centre (AWSDC), said: ‘Life expectancy is
still only 43 years and in many areas the rate of maternal mortality is the
highest in the world. Half of all schools in Afghanistan don’t have buildings.
The country needs more health workers, more teachers and better infrastructure.
Afghans are desperate to see improvements in all these areas.

The
report was written by a group of national and international non-governmental
organizations including Oxfam International, Cooperation Centre for Afghanistan
(CCA) and Sanayee Development Organization (SDO)

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