During a 2-day US delegation visit to Kabul this week, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula J. Dobriansky announced that the US will provide $2.5 million for the construction of 14 women’s centers and $1 million for education, micro-enterprise, and training grants to NGOs that will be supervised by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. The US delegation traveled to Kabul for the second meeting of the Afghan Women’s Council.
“Our visit here today really attests to the importance that we attach to our relationship with Afghanistan and Afghanistan’s future, and in particular also, the future of women,” said Dobriansky, according to the Associated Press.
While pleased that the US has committed resources for the Women’s Centers, the Feminist Majority also has urged strongly that funding for the Women’s Centers and other programs for women go directly to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, rather than through international NGOs, in order to strengthen the Women’s Ministry’s permanent role in safeguarding women’s rights throughout Afghanistan. During a video conference with the Kabul delegation, Feminist Majority representatives also raised the issue of whether the US would contribute funds for the operating expenses for the Women’s Centers as well as their construction.
While the infusion of additional funding certainly brings new promise to the war-torn country, reconstruction continues to suffer setbacks and security remains a key concern. Feminist Majority representatives at the video conference expressed concern about the security situation in Afghanistan and the need for expansion of international peace keeping forces, particularly in view of violent attacks on girls’ schools last fall and recent warnings that a US attack on Iraq could mean increased terrorism in Afghanistan. In response to this question, Minister of Women’s Affairs Habiba Sorabi stated her belief that it was necessary for the country’s security and for women to expand peace keeping forces beyond Kabul.