8th March 2012 Washington DC, USA

Helmand on International Women’s Day

I’d like to draw your attention to the latest blog by our Head of Mission in Helmand, Michael O’Neill. The post covers Helmand Province on today, International Women’s Day. Helmand Province offers a microcosm of the wide range of conditions facing women and girls in Afghanistan.  In many rural areas it’s hard for girls to get any kind of education, and extremely difficult to find trained female teachers.  But this is far from the full story.

Helmand has two women in the national parliament in Kabul, four in the 15-person Provincial Council, more than half-a-dozen others in the Lashkar Gah and Gereshk local councils – all elected, all vociferous in presenting their views. This blog is a useful reminder once again of how far Helmand has come, and I therefore encourage you to read it.


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About Sophia Willitts-King

Sophia joined the British Embassy in Washington DC in January 2011 as First Secretary, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Foreign, Security and Policy Group. Her previous work in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office includes a year working on policy towards Greece and Cyprus and 10 months studying Urdu, including seven months living with families in small villages in Pakistan. Taking up a post in the British High Commission in Islamabad, Sophia covered internal politics and human rights during a turbulent period (nuclear testing, the Kargil conflict, the military coup and the 9/11 attacks). During her time in Pakistan, Sophia had the opportunity to travel widely across the country; including to fascinating places such as Waziristan, Quetta, Gwadar, Peshawar and Multan that are now difficult to visit. Sophia then returned to London where she worked in the Iraq Policy Unit, before taking up a job covering the foreign policy aspects of UK defence industrial issues and UK input into the defence aspects of the “European Constitution”. She also worked in the Cabinet Office in charge of the Ministerial committee’s and inter-ministry co-ordination on Iraq, the Middle East and North Africa. She has also served in Kathmandu as the Deputy Head of Mission where she managed the Embassy and led the political team, which was working to support Nepal to complete its peace process, tackle the challenges of the conflict period, and put itself on a path of sustainable development.

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