HC Deb 27 January 2004 vol 417 cc295-6W
Joan Ruddock

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is in relation to UN Security Council Resolution 1325, with particular reference to Iraq and Afghanistan. [150773]

Mr. Rammell

The United Kingdom is committed to working towards the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and ensuring that the necessary mechanisms are in place for monitoring progress.

The situation of Afghan women and girls has developed significantly in the last two years. On 5 March 2003, Afghanistan ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

23 per cent. of the delegates to the Constitutional Loya Jirga were women from across Afghanistan. Articles 22, 43 and 44 of the new constitution, agreed on 4 January, establish equal rights for men and women, which also reflected many of the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on violence against women. The Afghan Transitional Administration and international community are committed to providing the security and resources needed to support implementation of the new constitution, and to develop effective mechanisms to tackle continuing human rights violations and abuses, including those against women.

The UK is working to encourage Afghan women to take their rightful role in the forthcoming elections. This includes ensuring that women and men are included in voter registration programmes, that they develop the capacities to participate as campaigners and officials and that women are empowered to take advantage of their quotas for representation in Parliament.

We are also supporting the Afghan Judicial Commission in its work to improve access to justice for all Afghan communities, taking into account the special needs of women.

The UK actively seeks to deploy female British officers to peacekeeping missions and other conflict prevention/ resolution operations. This has included a senior gender expert working with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad, We try to ensure that those members of the various UK teams in Iraq, especially those working in or with the CPA, are fully briefed on the gender aspects of their work. The UK's Special Representative, Sir Jeremy Greenstock recently met my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Minister for Women and Equality, a representative group of Iraqi women, and representatives of UK non-governmental organisations, including the Women's National Commission, active in the field.

Encouraging Iraqi women to participate fully in the reconstruction of their country is a key aim of the Government's conflict prevention strategy for Iraq.

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