Women vital for Afghanistan's future: French FM

17th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in Kabul Saturday there would be no progress in Afghanistan without its women, adding that things are "going better" in the turbulent nation.

KABUL - French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in Kabul Saturday there would be no progress in Afghanistan without its women, adding that things are "going better" in the turbulent nation.

Wrapping up a three-day visit, the minister said he had noted an "admirable courage" among the Afghan women he met during his trip.

"The future of democracy passes through women," Kouchner told reporters. "Without the women in Afghanistan, there will be no progress."

The 1996-2001 Taliban regime denied women an education, and only the minority are literate. Most do not have jobs or income, with abuse rife although access to justice is limited.

Parliament this year passed a family law governing practices in the Shiite minority that critics say obliges women to have sex with their husbands and limits their movements outside of the home among several issues.

President Hamid Karzai has ordered a review.

Kouchner said that France would support the "struggle" of Afghan women if they organised themselves politically.

The minister said he had raised with Karzai concerns about media freedom in Afghanistan, where journalists have been imprisoned for alleged offences against Islam, and the 20 August presidential elections.

The vote will be "a decisive moment" for France, the minister said.

"If the elections are sullied, appear to be rigged or incomplete, if the security is not assured, then it will be difficult to explain to the people of France, reticent about this engagement, the continuation of our presence," he said.

Kouchner said that despite an increase in insurgency-linked violence over the past two years, "It is better" in several sectors including education, transport and the building of the army and police.

France has nearly 2,780 soldiers in Afghanistan under a NATO-led force drawn from 40 countries.

The United States and other nations have pledged extra troops to secure the elections against attack but also to try to turn the tide on the Taliban insurgency.

AFP / Expatica

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