Brussels Conference on Afghanistan Closing Speech at Women Empowered Side Event

October 4, 2016

Greetings and a very good afternoon to all of you!

Excellences, ladies and gentlemen!

I am extremely happy to be here today.

I understand that you have had good discussions on two very important dimensions of women’s situation in Afghanistan; namely, women’s rights and their socio-economic empowerment.

I want to thank Lyse Doucet, a good friend of Afghanistan, for her excellent facilitation today.

I will also provide a quick overview of the main achievements in the area of women’s rights as well as their socio-economic empowerment thus far.

Empowerment might give different connotations in different contexts. But in general, women’s empowerment is a commitment to include women in decision-making processes in all sectors of society.

For us in Afghanistan, women’s empowerment include leadership positions in all government branches, respecting and supporting human rights for all men and women equally, insuring health, safety and well-being, promoting education and training for women, the inclusion of women in supply chain and business practices and promoting equality through community initiatives and advocacy.

Let’s not forget that before the arrival of the Taliban women in Afghanistan had rights. But the Taliban abolished all their civic rights which had a terrible and lasting impact on all sectors of society.

Therefore, women’s rights have been at the forefront of the government’s agenda in post-Taliban Afghanistan. The 2004 Constitution, enshrines equality of women in the law and 11 articles of the Constitution deal with problems specific to women.

The National Unity Government has committed itself to increase women’s presence in the government by 30 per cent.

Afghanistan developed a National Action Plan for UN Resolution 1325, as a result we now have women actively participate in negotiations in the High Peace Council. We have been able to achieve increased female enrollment across all departments of Kabul University and private institutions.

Today, we have four women ministers in the cabinet, four women ambassadors, women governors and district governors and a good number of deputy ministers.Taking advantage of the PROMOTE project that trains educated women, we have concluded several Ministerial MoUs to recruit the graduates.

We also have a government commitment for the role of women in local governance and development. Moreover, women play an important role in the Election Reform process now.

Despite our achievements, we are still faced with challenges:

• Illiteracy is higher among women, particularly alarming in rural areas

• Women in rural areas might not have access to their basic needs

• They have less access to courts

• More than 87 per cent of women face some form of violence, particularly domestic violence.

• Female students make up only 22 per cent of the total number of students in education and institutions of higher learning. However they need more chances of employment upon graduation.

We believe, working towards protection and promotions of women’s rights is working towards a better future for the entire country, and National Unity Government is committed to women’s empowerment in all branches of the government and including sub-national level. One Pillar of our Executive Priorities Document focuses on women, their protection against violence, their economic growth, and their overall socio-economic empowerment.

In our National Development Framework, we are undertaking to expand support to women’s agri-businesses, in the Justice Sector Reform by increasing the number of women in justice and law enforcement agencies and ensuring access to justice by women, in human capital development by investing in women’s education and market employment.

We will be launching Women’s Economic Empowerment National Priority Program.

Let’s pledge to work together to make our dream of self-reliance and prosperous Afghanistan come true.

Thank you, thank you very much