Politics

Focus Afghan mission on women: CARE

Canada should become the international leader in advancing women's rights, empowerment and development in Afghanistan after its military mission ends in 2011, an aid group's report says.

Canada should become the international leader in advancing women’s rights, empowerment and development in Afghanistan after its military mission ends in 2011, an aid group's report recommends.

Afghan girls read the Qur'an during the fasting month of Ramadan at a mosque in Jalalabad, east of the Afghan capital Kabul in August. CARE Canada says Canada should focus on Afghan women's rights and champion girls' education after its military mission ends next summer. ((Rahmat Gul/Associated Press) )
The report, released Wednesday by CARE Canada, says Canadians do not want the government to walk away from its major investment in Afghanistan over the past decade.

Kevin McCort, CARE's president and chief executive said Canada can best fill the "niche" of focusing on empowering Afghan women in its post-2011 work in the country.

The Canadian Forces are currently preparing for the end of the military mission in Afghanistan next summer.

A parliamentary motion passed March 13, 2008, calls for Canada to "end its presence in Kandahar as of July 2011" and for all forces to have left by the following December. Prime Minister Stephen Harper subsequently said that the vast majority of troops would be out of Afghanistan, and not just Kandahar, by the deadline.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay has said Canada is willing to continue mentoring Afghan police after the troop disengagement. As well, some opposition MPs have indicated they would support for a continued development role for Canadian troops after the deadline.

CARE's report recommends Canada champion the education of Afghan girls, especially at the secondary level, and "lead the call" for women’s rights being guaranteed without qualification throughout all future reconciliation and reintegration processes.

It also calls for the Afghan government to be held to their legal obligations and to respect, protect and promote the rights of women.