Your excellency Mr. Koenders,
Your excellency Ms. Verveer,
I am delighted to be here at this important event to discuss the prospects for women in Afghanistan and its neighbouring countries. I would like to take this opportunity to convey to you some recent developments regarding the situation of women and challenges still facing women in my country. And I look forward to the continued support of the international community in supporting my country’s efforts in promoting gender equality.
After the Bonn conference on Afghanistan in 2001, there has been great progress and improvement in women’s lives and their political and social participation. This started with the participation of women in the first emergency Loya Jirga and was followed by the increased participation of women in parliamentary and provincial elections. There was also a huge increase in the percentage of girls and women going to schools and universities. There has also been an increase of women participation in the work place.
If you look at the Women Ministry’s achievements, you will see that we have finalised, in consultation with civil society, and approved a national action plan for women for the next ten years.
Despite this progress, looking at the overall situation of women especially in the rural areas, we can say that their situation has not improved significantly and that there is a lot more that needs to be done. More attention and resources need to be given in order to increase women’s participation in education, in providing income opportunities, in the provision of basic infrastructure, and in the political and social decision-making processes.
I have personally been involved with this regional platform since the Kabul meeting and I very much support the idea of a regional exchange of experiences and lessons learned among women organizations in the region. I would like to ask the international community both in the west and in the region to also support this worthwhile initiative.
I would like to thank Gender Concerns International for hosting this important conference. I am very proud to have Sabra Bano as my friend.
Thank you for your attention.