CANADA/AFGHANISTAN: Put Women in Afghan Army, Senate Report Says

Thursday, December 16, 2010
Toronto Sun
North America
Southern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Reconstruction and Peacebuilding

Canada should threaten to withhold aid to Afghanistan unless women are fully included in the peace process and push for more women in the country's security forces, a new Senate report says.

Canada should also put resources into helping build the justice system, particularly in remote communities, and provide gender sensitivity training for the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, as well as their Canadian trainers.

They also want to see a continuing focus on education for girls, but are recommending more priority on high school and university for women.

“The most important (recommendation) is Afghan women's meaningful participation in the peace process,” said Nancy Ruth, chairwoman of the Senate committee on human rights.

“Women have to be at the table and we would like Canada to ... make sure our support and aid is conditional upon Canada emphasizing that on the government of Pakistan.”

It's thought the co-operation of Pakistan, a country that borders Afghanistan's most lawless region, is necessary for stability in the area.

There are about 1,100 female police officers out of a force of 107,000, Sen. Mobina Jaffer said, and about 1,000 out of 134,000 in the army.

“If it is women that are in the forces, they're more able to ... investigate, especially around issues of rape and violence against women, do better searches in the houses where there are just women involved, and it just empowers the investigation process in both the police forces and the armed forces,” she said.

One idea that's worked in other countries, the senators said, is to have an all-female company in the military.

The report follows a month-long study by the committee. The senators admit they only spoke to three Afghan women.