Afghanistan: Girls and Women

Baroness Hodgson of Abinger Excerpts
Monday 23rd January 2023

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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On the noble Lord’s second point, I have met Tariq Bakheet directly in Jeddah—“Tariq” is a good name to have on these things—and we continue to engage directly with the OIC. The Deputy Secretary-General and the director of UN Women were both there, together with the SRSG. They went to Herat, Kabul and Kandahar and met a range of Taliban Ministers. About 40% of 50% of those involved with the NGO sector, for example, are women, so they made the case very powerfully for the need for that to continue. There has been some progress; for example, we have seen women doctors and nurses returning to the health sector. However, the situation is quite dire and they left Afghanistan very clear about the picture there. As we have said before, much of the power centres on the Emir in Kandahar, and his edict seems to be final.

Baroness Hodgson of Abinger Portrait Baroness Hodgson of Abinger (Con)
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My Lords, widows and women who head households are now confined to their homes because they are unable to go out without a male escort. How can we ensure that aid will reach them, because people are starving there at the moment in this very cold winter?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, first, I pay tribute to my noble friend’s contribution in the field of working with Afghan women. I know that she recently met a series of Afghan women leaders, as did I. We are working with the United Nations and other agencies. There has been a pause on non-essential, non-humanitarian support, but we are also looking at workarounds. For example, in certain provinces—about 26 of the 36—there has been some movement where health workers have been allowed back. Martin Griffiths, the head of OCHA, is currently in Kabul and we will also be meeting him to establish what channels are open to us.