MPs: Britain failing Afghan women
Britain is failing to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to improving the lives of Afghan women, a influential committee of MPs has said.
A string of promises to boost the rights of females in the war-torn nation "have not been followed by adequate and specific action and funding", they warned.
The Commons international development select committee said the fate of women in Afghan society after the withdrawal of international troops would be the "acid test" of the success of aid.
But in some aspects the situation for women seemed to have gone backwards over the last five years, undermining improvements seen following the fall of the Taliban regime, it suggested.
A higher priority should be given to girls' education as well as shelters and legal services for women, the MPs concluded, saying the present funding was welcome but "a lot more" should be done.
In its latest report, the committee called for the UK to switch the focus of its aid from securing a "viable state" towards directly providing services and anti-poverty action. The MPs said that on a recent fact-finding trip, the situation for women "appeared to us to have deteriorated in some respects since our last visit in 2007".
"The women we met on our visit including female politicians were nervous about what would happen when international combat troops departed in 2014," they reported. "We believe that the treatment of women in Afghanistan post-2014 will be the litmus test as to whether the military and development spending over the last 10 years has succeeded in improving the lives of ordinary Afghans.
"Although DfID (the Department for International Development) and the UK Government have spoken at length about women's rights and women in Afghanistan, we are concerned that this has not been followed by adequate and specific action and funding."
Calling for DfID to be "flexible" in its planning for the post-transition period, the committee said the Government "may have to recognise that a viable state may not be achievable".
The Government's own analysis suggested small-scale rural development projects had proved significantly more effective than larger government-based work.