The House of Commons International Development Committee has just released a new report into development in Afghanistan. It made the headlines because of its not very surprising conclusion that it will make take more than aid to build a properly functioning democratic Afghan state. The report sensibly suggests that UK aid should be focussed on poverty alleviation and - as ActionAid has been saying - that DFID must do much more to support the rights of women in Afghanistan.
This is a recommendation that new secretary of state Justine Greening should embrace as hers, and one on which she can make a very real difference.
Last October I blogged about ActionAid's research with Afghan women which showed that nine out of 10 feared a return to Taliban-style government. 4 out of 10 specifically believed that things would get worse when international troops leave.
It is well known that Afghanistan is an extremely difficult country in which to be a woman, and this was cited by global leaders as a reason for the military intervention 11 years ago. Horrifyingly, some 87% of Afghan women experience violence at some point in their lives - one of the very highest rates in the world.
Since the intervention, donors have given an immense $30 billion (£19bn) in aid to Afghanistan. With all of the talk about the importance of women's rights, you would have thought that a decent share of that money would have been spent in this area, especially on tackling violence against women.
Real, important progress has certainly been made - as shown by the seven out of 10 Afghan women who told us that their lives had improved since 2001. The passage of the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law gives a legal framework for tackling the problem. To help implement this legislation, the Afghan Government produced a National Action Plan for Violence Against Women (NAPWA) which details cross Government action.
Yet shockingly, we could not find any existing estimate for how much money is needed to implement the NAPWA. It is fairly basic practice that if a national government, a donor government - or virtually anyone else - genuinely wants to deal with a problem then they will at the very least have an estimate of how much money they need to do so. So a few months ago, ActionAid commissioned our own research to put a number on it. Bear in mind that this is simply about finding out how much money would be needed for the Afghan Government to implement its own plan - a small step down the road that must be travelled.
We found that $90 million is needed across three years - a relative drop in the ocean. The Australian Government has already committed $17 million towards this total. However, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) is yet to commit anything. It has commendably increased its spending in Afghanistan to £178 million per year until 2014-15. Yet DFID is unable to say how much of that aid is, or will be, spent tackling violence against women.
In its new report the House of Commons International Development Committee agrees with us that this is unacceptable. Its Chair Malcolm Bruce MP said, "The UK Government has talked a lot about women's rights in Afghanistan, but it has not followed this up with enough practical action. The treatment of women in Afghanistan after troops pull out in 2014 will be the litmus test of whether we have succeeded in improving the lives of ordinary Afghans over the last ten years."
Mr Bruce and the committee have taken the words out of ActionAid's mouth.
Now it's over to DFID to decide how to respond. We have reason to hope that new secretary of state Justine Greening may embrace this as part of her agenda. Promisingly, she has been very clear that women and girls will be a priority and in a speech earlier this week she specifically talked about supporting women in Afghanistan.
The UK government has a window of opportunity to do all that it can to ensure that the important gains of the last 10 years are not lost, but that window is closing fast. MPs across the parties would be likely to support this: Conservatives Margot James and Claire Perry; Labour's Gemma Doyle and John Spellar; and Lib Dem Jo Swinson are just some of those who have previously called for action.
It is time for Justine Greening and the UK government to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to supporting women in Afghanistan. They must follow Australia's lead and make a sizeable new financial commitment to help end the shocking abuse of women.
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