October 22, 2006 14:43 ET

CIDA: Canada Announces Support for Afghan Women and Girls

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 22, 2006) - The Honourable Josee Verner, Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for Official Languages and La Francophonie, today announced two new projects in Afghanistan that focus on the role of women and girls in society. She made the announcement during a visit here with the Ministers of Education and Women's Affairs, Hosna Bano Ghanzanfar.

"Canada is proud to help Afghan women realize the promise of the country's new constitution, which recognizes the rights of women," Minister Verner said. "These projects also mobilize the power of women as agents of economic development and social change, to improve the well-being of their families and their communities."

The first is a $14.5 million Girls' Education Project to be implemented by the world-renowned Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) in collaboration with the Afghan Ministry of Education. The project will establish up to 4,000 community-based schools, after-school learning programs and provide training for 4,000 new female schoolteachers. About 120,000 schoolchildren in 11 provinces (including Kandahar) will benefit, 85 percent of them girls.

"Afghanistan's Ministry of Education is pleased with this new, constructive partnership with the Government of Canada and BRAC, a respected Asian non-governmental organization," said Minister of Education for Afghanistan Hanif Atmar. "This education project will assist my government in exercising its sovereignty across Afghanistan, in extending those services which a government must do for its people. The project will open new public school doors to Afghan children, especially girls. This, in turn, will enable these children to widen their opportunities in adulthood, benefiting themselves, their families and communities, and their country."

The second project, Integrating Women into Markets, provides $5 million to help 1,500 women develop horticulture, mostly fruits and vegetables in home-based gardens, to supplement family diets and generate income. Managed by the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) based in Waterloo, Ontario, the project will be implemented over four years, benefiting over 5,000 members of the families of the women involved.

Minister Verner acknowledged the important role of the Afghan Ministry of Women's Affairs in promoting the role of women and girls in society. The Minister referred to Canada's plans to work closely with the Afghan Government as it implements its National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan.

Minister Verner also announced that Canada is contributing $10 million of continued support to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), a multi-donor fund administered by the World Bank and established in 2002 to support the Government of Afghanistan's day-to-day operations, including the salaries of teachers and healthcare workers.

"Canada's substantial contributions and continued support gives it a key role as a member of the ARTF Donor Committee, which advises the Afghan Government on the fund's management," Minister Verner said. "This is another example of the partnership we have developed with the democratically-elected government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai."

While many challenges remain, economic, social and democratic progress is evident across the country. Annual per capita income in Afghanistan, while still under $1 a day, rose to $261 in 2005 from just $145 in 2001. During the same period, female literacy has more than doubled from 13 to 28 percent, and primary school enrolment has risen from 700,000, all of them male, to well over five million, more than one-third of them girls.

For more information on Canada's programming in Afghanistan, please refer to Afghanistan page on CIDA's website (at the address below).

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
    Pascale St-Pierre
    Press Secretary
    Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
    Media Relations Office
    819-953-6534 (electronic version of document)