Afghan women get empowerment boost

July 16, 2013 at 10:51 AM

LONDON, July 16 (UPI) -- The British government said Tuesday it was committed to a program meant to strengthen the role of women in Afghanistan's political system.

Afghanistan is scheduled to hold provincial and presidential elections next year. Past elections were seen as skewed in favor of President Hamid Karzai. Women in the Afghan political system are marginalized and female leaders are often killed for taking part in an environment dominated by conservative Islamic principles.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a Tuesday update to members of Parliament the government was supporting women's political rights in Afghanistan.

"The U.K. has agreed a new program in Afghanistan to strengthen Afghan women's political participation, as candidates and as voters, in the upcoming elections," he said in a statement.

The British government, he said, has committed $6.7 million though December 2015 to support the effort.

Hague said he shared U.N. concerns about human rights in Afghanistan. Karzai in June appointed officials to an independent human rights commission, though the British government said it questioned the qualifications of the some of the appointees.

International forces are preparing to transition to an advisory role in Afghanistan as their combat obligations end next year.

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