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Afghans in Britain Plan Restart of Women's Education - 2001-11-19

British officials have met with exiled Afghan women to discuss plans for the world community to help revive education for girls in a post-Taleban Afghanistan.

The meeting was chaired by Cherie Blair, wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In attendance were Afghan women who fled to Britain after the Taleban took power in Afghanistan five years ago. The Taleban abolished education for girls and barred women from working outside the home.

Mrs. Blair told a news conference that the Taleban's treatment of women was "horrifying." She expressed her solidarity with the aspirations of her Afghan guests. "The women in Afghanistan are entitled, as the women in every country are, to have the same hopes and aspirations for ourselves and for our daughters. A good education, a career outside the home if they want one, the right to health care, and of course, most importantly, a right for their voices to be heard," she said.

British Secretary for International Development Clare Short said a 100 day plan would be implemented with U.N. support to revive the school system in Afghanistan. "Children are hungry. So if you provide food at school, parents will send their children to school. And the World Food Program uses a system of providing, at the end of the month, a can of [cooking] oil for girls who have been in school, so you get girls' attendance went right up quite quickly," she said.

Ms. Short just returned to London from a World Bank meeting in Ottawa, and she says that institution revealed a plan to fund reconstruction projects in Afghanistan.