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USAID Launches Program Aimed At Empowering, Educating Women In Afghanistan

USAID “is launching a program to educate, train and empower at least 75,000 women between the ages of 18 to 30 in Afghanistan,” the Associated Press/Huffington Post reports. “The goal of the five-year program is to strengthen women’s rights groups, boost female participation in the economy, increase the number of women in decision-making positions within the government and help women obtain business skills,” the news agency writes (7/18). USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah announced the program on Thursday “amid fears that gains in women’s rights and development made over the past decade will dissipate after the withdrawal of foreign combat troops next year,” the Washington Post states. Speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Shah said, “Many people ask me and others what will happen to Afghanistan when we complete a military transition. … The answer is, it depends. This is a critical moment for Afghanistan and for our partnership in the region,” according to the newspaper. “Women have made large strides in Afghanistan over the past decade,” the newspaper writes, noting maternal mortality has decreased “from 1,600 per 100,000 births to 327, between 2000 and 2010, according to the World Bank,” and “[p]renatal health care coverage has increased from six percent to 39 percent, and institutional deliveries from seven percent to 43 percent” (DeYoung, 7/18).