Press release

UK pre-elections boost to Afghan women voters

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The UK is providing £18.5 million in new funding to increase the involvement of Afghan women in upcoming elections and to reduce violence

New support from the UK will help to ensure that women have the chance to play a full part in Afghanistan’s elections next year, Justine Greening announced from Kabul today.

She set out how £18.5 million in new British funding will:

  • help to boost numbers of women voters and their involvement in the political process;
  • provide training to women provincial councillors once elected; and
  • support community-level information campaigns and outreach work to help reduce violence against women and girls.

Presidential and provincial elections will take place in Afghanistan on 5 April next year. Credible, inclusive and transparent elections are critical to ensuring a peaceful transition of power in 2014 and to building the confidence and support of the Afghan people.

Justine Greening said:

Despite recent progress on women’s rights in Afghanistan, many still face significant challenges, from physical violence and psychological abuse through to exclusion from the political process. We are helping to tackle the root causes of these issues to ensure that women’s voices are heard.

Preparations for the elections next year are gathering pace. If the election results are to represent Afghanistan as a whole that means women playing a fuller part, both as provincial candidates and as voters.

This new funding from the UK will ensure that whatever happens these elections will lay the groundwork for women’s participation for generations to come.

Under the new funding announced today, £8 million will be provided to support the 2014 Presidential and Provincial Elections and 2015 Parliamentary Elections, including to the Independent Election Commission’s Gender Unit.

This will support work including outreach workshops and radio, TV and leaflet campaigns to increase women’s electoral awareness and engagement across all 34 provinces, as well as the establishment of a voter information centre.

A further £7.5 million of UK assistance will help to strengthen political institutions and processes in 2014, including providing training to women provincial councillors once they have been elected, in areas including negotiation and leadership as well as constituency outreach.

A further £3 million in initial funding will help to address the root causes of violence against women in Afghanistan. It will provide training for those working in the formal and community-based justice sectors as well as outreach work and support for male religious leaders, educators and Afghan women working to improve awareness of these issues with the Afghan public.

Notes to editors

  1. In Mazar, Justine Greening met several women from civil society organisations that receive UK support and heard about the challenges they face when working on women’s rights.
  2. In Kabul, Justine signed a UK-Afghan education grant with Deputy Education Minister Rasa and Finance Minister Zakhilwal, finalising DFID’s recent pledge of £47 million to get girls in some of the poorest rural areas of Afghanistan access to a quality education through the Girls’ Education Challenge Fund.
  3. Through DFID’s Tawanmandi programme (supporting Afghan Civil Society Organisations), at least ten grants of up to £2 million in total will go to civil society organisations primarily focusing on eliminating violence against women from next year.
  4. The UK is one of the leading donors to the UN-managed elections programme called Enhancing Legal and Electoral Capacity for Tomorrow (ELECT II). With the additional £8 million announced today, DFID has now committed £20 million to ensure effective and well organised Afghan-led elections in 2014/15, improve the voter registration system, increase female participation in elections, improve public confidence in election results and to ensure people have a stronger stake in the government they have voted for.
  5. DFID is providing £4.5 million up to 2015, to help strengthen women’s political participation and promote more inclusive politics. The Women’s Political Participation and Dialogue Opportunities Programme is delivered in close collaboration with the Independent Election Commission (IEC).

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