CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY - CIDA

CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY - CIDA

March 05, 2009 12:17 ET

Government of Canada Marks International Women's Week by Announcing Funding to Support Women in Afghanistan

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 5, 2009) - As part of International Women's Week, the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation and the Vice-Chair of Canada's Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan, announced today Canada's support for War Child Canada's efforts to help Afghan women and their families. War Child Canada will provide women improved access to basic services and encourage their participation in the local economy.

International Women's Week is a time to reflect on and encourage the belief that increasing women's participation in and access to leadership roles and opportunities will help women thrive in Canada and around the world.

"I am proud of the progress we have made to advance the rights of women in Afghanistan and the increased opportunities they now have to greater literacy, education and health care despite the serious challenges they face," said Minister Oda. "Their own determination for a better life for themselves and their families must be supported. This project will mean that their determination will be aided by the work of War Child Canada."

War Child Canada, founded by the internationally recognized Dr. Samantha Nutt, is an award-winning organization that works with children whose lives have been devastated by war.

Canada's contribution to War Child Canada's Afghan Women's Community Support Project (AWCSP), through the Canadian International Development Agency, will be approximately $2 million to 2010. The project will provide Afghan women with the training and support services necessary so they can become contributing members of the local economy. Following their training, the participating women will also be provided with small loans and ongoing professional and peer support to enable them to launch their own small businesses.

"Through initiatives such as these, Canada's Overseas Development Assistance is working to break the cycle of poverty, violence and human rights abuses that has threatened the health and well-being of women and children in Afghanistan for far too long," said Dr. Nutt. "CIDA's current support will greatly enhance our work in the region with local women's organizations and builds upon a highly successful program begun by War Child Canada in Afghanistan in 2003 with support from the Government of Canada. It is an investment that Canadians can be proud of, the impact of which will continue to be felt over generations".

Building the capacity of the Government of Afghanistan to deliver basic services to its citizens was recently identified in the Government of Canada's Third Quarterly Report on Afghanistan as one of Canada's most urgent priorities. This includes increased access to education, jobs and health care, especially for women and girls.

Also on display at today's announcement was a photography and poetry exhibit entitled, Through Our Eyes. This exhibit was developed by Alaina Podmorow, a 12-year-old student from Kelowna, B.C. and founder of the organization Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan, which raises funds to pay the salaries of teachers in Afghanistan.

In January 2009, Alaina wrote to Minister Oda offering to bring her photo exhibit to Ottawa, and, as a result, the exhibit will be on display in the CIDA Lobby at 200 Promenade du Portage, Gatineau, Quebec, until March 6, 2009.

"Alaina is an inspiring example that no matter your age, young Canadian women can make a real difference in the futures of girls growing up in Afghanistan," said Minister Oda.

For more information on War Child Canada, please visit: http://www.warchild.ca/

For more information on Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan, please visit: http://www.littlewomenforlittlewomen.com/

For more information and to subscribe to regular updates regarding Canada's engagement in Afghanistan, please visit www.afghanistan.gc.ca.


BACKGROUNDER

CANADA MARKS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S WEEK BY ANNOUNCING FUNDING TO SUPPORT AFGHAN WOMEN AND GIRLS

International Women's Week is a time to reflect on and encourage the belief that increasing women's participation in and access to leadership roles and opportunities will help women thrive in Canada and around the world. The Government of Canada is dedicated to providing such opportunities to Afghan women and girls.

After decades of conflict and discrimination and being denied access to the workplace, school, political life and even basic health care, the women of Afghanistan have made some progress, despite harsh challenges.

Progress includes the fact that Afghan women today represent 27 per cent of Afghan parliamentarians, more than 2.1 million girls are enrolled in school, and more than 290,000 women have accessed small loans and savings services across the country.

But, women in Afghanistan are still among the most disadvantaged in the world, especially in measures of health, poverty, exposure to violence, and the deprivation of their rights to property, education and literacy.

In support of women in Afghanistan, Canada announced on March 5, 2009, a contribution of approximately $2 million to War Child Canada's Afghan Women's Community Support Project. Canada's support of War Child Canada will directly contribute to protecting the rights and improving the livelihoods of women and girls.

War Child Canada's Afghan Women's Community Support Project

War Child Canada's Afghan Women's Community Support Project (AWCSP) aims to provide opportunities for vulnerable women and their families to meet their education, livelihood and basic health needs, so that they are able to actively participate in their communities and in the local economy.

War Child Canada has developed programs that offer Afghan women basic literacy and numeracy education, and training in marketable trades such as carpet weaving, beekeeping and agricultural farming. As well, they are also given instruction in basic business management and finance enabling some women to secure microfinance loans and assistance in setting up their own businesses.

Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan

Founded in 2006 by Alaina Podmorow, Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan has been active in raising awareness among North American girls and their parents of the issues faced by girls in Afghanistan.

Taking this work on the road, a poetry and photography exhibit entitled, Through Our Eyes, was used as a backdrop for this announcement. This exhibit pairs poetry written by the Little Women with images of Afghan girls and Canadian girls supporting education efforts in Afghanistan.

This exhibit will be on display in the CIDA Lobby at 200 Promenade du Portage, Gatineau, Quebec, until March 6, 2009.

Examples of Canadian projects that assist Afghan women and girls:

- The Education Quality Improvement Project (EQUIP) invests in educational facilities and human resources.

- http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/canada-afghanistan/projects-projets/serv1.aspx

- The Aga Khan Foundation's Girls' Education Support Program provides increased access to quality learning opportunities and promotes secure and supportive learning environments for girls.

- http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/canada-afghanistan/projects-projets/serv2.aspx

- The Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA), which, to date, has provided more than 445,000 Afghans - almost 2/3 are women - with small loans and savings services to help them improve their livelihoods.

- http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/canada-afghanistan/projects-projets/serv15.aspx

- UNICEF projects help address gaps in maternal health services in the southern region of Afghanistan.

- http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/canada-afghanistan/projects-projets/aid7.aspx

- The International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association initiative provides legal-aid services to Afghanistan's most vulnerable groups, including women.

- http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/canada-afghanistan/projects-projets/institutions5.aspx

- The CARE project responds to the needs of the most vulnerable widows in Kabul.

- http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/canada-afghanistan/projects-projets/aid2.aspx


Equality between women and men is an important objective and a cross-cutting theme for Canada's work in Afghanistan. Canada addresses the needs of women and girls by continuing to support projects that protect women's rights and improve their access to education, maternal health, the labour market and political life.

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Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
    Michelle Coates
    Press Secretary
    819-953-6238
    or
    Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
    Media Relations Office
    819-953-6534
    media@acdi-cida.gc.ca