Friday, August 1, 2014

Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment

Informal Consultations on United Nations System – wide Coherence:
Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment
Statement made by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador of Afghanistan to the U.N

Mrs. Deputy Secretary General,

Distinguished co-chairs,
I would like to thank you for organizing this important second round of consultations on the Gender aspects of Coherence and I would also like to express my gratitude to the Deputy Secretary General for having submitted the comprehensive “Note on the United Nations System Support to Member States on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment”.
Distinguished co-chairs,
An important precondition for the success of Afghanistan’s development goals is the reversal of women’s historical disadvantage in Afghan society. The Government’s vision is a peaceful and progressive nation where women and men enjoy security, equal rights, and opportunities in all spheres of life. The Government is committed to fulfilling its obligation to women’s development as embodied in the Constitution, the MDGs, the Afghanistan Compact, and international treaties.
The Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) that has been recently launched during the International Conference in support of Afghanistan which was held in Paris on June 12, provides a framework for mainstreaming gender interventions across sectors so as to address women’s position in the society, their socio-economic condition, and access to development opportunities. The Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs, as the lead agency for women’s advancement, takes on the role of coordinating and monitoring the outcomes of Government interventions.
Distinguished co-chairs,
We share a common commitment to strengthen our collective efforts to achieve gender equality and promote and ensure the rights of girls and women. The implementation of this strategy is a shared responsibility among Afghan government entities at the national and sub-national levels. Its effective implementation requires the continuing assistance of the international community including the United Nations Agencies operating in Afghanistan.

Distinguished co-chairs,
Afghanistan is not among the pilot countries of System -wide Coherence but represents an interesting case of multiple UN agencies and donor countries, present on the ground

to assist the government reaching its development objectives related to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
We are grateful to the donor community and the whole United Nations system, specially UNAMA, UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, and UNIFEM for its continuous support of gender equality and women empowerment’s efforts in Afghanistan, however much needs to be improved to ensure that UN’s assistance in the advancement of gender equality and women’s empowerment reaches its full potential.
Currently about 19 UN agencies are operating in Afghanistan carrying out different mandates. While few development agencies have explicit gender related mandates, number of other agencies that are implicitly deal with the mainstreaming of gender dimension into their specific programmes. This makes the division of labor not always assembled into one coherent mechanism which can produce effective results on a long term basis.
It is undeniable that the UN development agencies carry a unique set of expertise in all fields which have been reflected in their activities in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, it has to be ensured that relevant UN agencies carry a complementary mandate and identify actions to align their work in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment results. This will certainly contribute to tackle the issue of duplications, increase cost-effectiveness and improve the quality and level of assistance provided by the UN.
Moreover effective delivery on gender equality and the empowerment of women in Afghanistan requires a strong coordination under the leadership of the Afghan Government and through an integrated UN effort with clear identification of results that the agencies would achieve individually and collectively. This will strengthen the effectiveness, accountability and responsibility for actual implementation on the ground and will ensure that programs carried out adequately focused on the gender benchmarks of Afghanistan National Development Strategy.

Distinguished co-chairs,
We would like to take this opportunity to request from the UN agencies operating in Afghanistan to intensify their efforts to coordinate a policy and programmatic framework for:

an integrated gender approach to United Nations policies and programmes in Afghanistan

effective information sharing and monitoring of all UN programmes addressing gender issues

and increased cost-effectiveness, through a reduction of overlapping and duplication
Thank you for your attention.