Skip to main content

Women wait in line to receive aid donated by the Turkish government in Kabul on March 5, 2012.

OMAR SOBHANI/REUTERS

Without help from the international community, hard-won gains in Afghanistan will almost certainly be reversed once NATO forces withdraw in 2014, putting the country at risk of even more violence and chaos.

That's why a conference in Tokyo on Sunday is so important. Donor countries are expected to pledge a commitment to future aid, in exchange for the Afghan government's undertaking to address long-standing concerns about corruption and waste.

Security is the most immediate challenge in the war-torn country, with at least $4-billion a year needed to build up the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to 380,000 members, and Canada has pledged $110-million over three years for that purpose. But development, infrastructure, social and human rights projects are as important to Afghanistan's long-term transition as police and military training. Without democratic institutions, including a functioning judiciary, a country cannot advance. Donors, including Canada, should continue to ask the Afghan government to implement reforms, including better safeguards against fraud.

Story continues below advertisement

Of particular concern are the rights and freedoms of women. During the 1996-2001 Taliban government, their rights were severely curtailed; they were banned from going to school and working, and required to wear a burka, a head-to-toe outer garment. There has been much progress since the Taliban was ousted 11 years ago, including better access to education and health care for women and girls. And yet they remain targets of violence and still face enormous challenges. Schools are routinely attacked, students are poisoned, and women are imprisoned for "moral crimes," defined as attempting to escape domestic abuse and forced marriages.

"Donors should make it clear that continued progress on women's rights is linked to continued international support," notes Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The decisions that donors make today will have huge implications for the lives of ordinary Afghans in the years ahead."

The international community should not forget that effective security also requires good governance. The road ahead for Afghanistan will be even more precarious if development challenges aren't addressed, and women's newly won rights and freedoms aren't protected.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

If your comment doesn't appear immediately it has been sent to a member of our moderation team for review

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.