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Women on Afghan buses to get new deal

Women on Afghan buses to get new deal under UN-backed programme

By the end of the year at least 30 per cent of seats on all public buses in Afghanistan will be reserved for women under an ambitious United Nations-backed programme launched in a country where drivers now speed past stops if only women are waiting while men refuse to give up seats for women and barge past them to board.

“It is a historic moment in women’s life in this country,” Women’s Minister Massouda Jalal said at the weekend signing of a memorandum of understanding with Deputy Minister of Transport Mohammad Waezzadah and UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) programme director Meryem Aslan.

UNIFEM has produced stickers indicating where women should board and sit, as well as posters promoting a positive attitude among public transport staff and male passengers towards women passengers. Implementation will be monitored by the independent Afghan Women’s Network.

Under the Taliban regime ousted by the United States-led invasion in 2001, women suffered discrimination.

A hotline is to be set up to take complaints, and disciplinary action will be taken against staff who fail to enforce the new directive, Mr. Waezzadah said.

There are around 600 public buses in Afghanistan, including 350 in Kabul.

The programme is in line with the benchmarks spelt out in the Afghanistan Compact, a UN-backed blueprint for international engagement in the development of Afghanistan over the next five years, and with government commitments to promote gender equality.

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