Canada pledges aid for Afghan women

An Afghan woman crosses a street in Kabul in this April 26, 2012 file photo. AFP PHOTO/JOHANNES...

An Afghan woman crosses a street in Kabul in this April 26, 2012 file photo. AFP PHOTO/JOHANNES EISELE

KRIS SIMS, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 12:17 PM ET

OTTAWA -- Canada is vowing to keep helping the women and girls in Afghanistan now that its military's combat role has ended in that country.

The federal government announced Sunday that Canada will give an additional $227 million in aid between 2014 and 2017.

"A primary focus of Canada's engagement in Afghanistan is the promotion of a better and more equitable future for women and girls," Christopher Alexander, parliamentary secretary for national defence, said.

The Conservative MP from Ontario was Canada's ambassador to Afghanistan prior to running for Parliament.

"Women and girls represent a significant resource that must be fully engaged in the advancement of their country," he said. "Empowering and advancing the rights of girls and women are in the interests of Afghan families and Afghan communities."

The money is to help women and girls learn how to read and provide them with health care.

Prior to the war in 2001 the entire country was controlled by the Taliban, a repressive Islamist regime that stoned women to death in soccer stadiums, barred girls from school, and kept women and girls from having jobs.

Some analysts worry that as the West's military might in the region wanes, the Taliban will regain its hold - and women will be in the same place they were before.

Alexander said their future also depends on the actions of the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"Canada's development assistance hinges on the performance of the Government of Afghanistan on key reforms in areas such as strengthening the rights of women and girls, reduction of endemic corruption, and significant improvements in governance and upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections," Alexander said.

The feds made the announcement at an international meeting on the future of Afghanistan held in Tokyo this weekend.

The newly announced cash is in addition to the $300 million already earmarked for Afghanistan between 2011 and 2014

kris.sims@sunmedia.ca


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