“Towards a Healthier Future: Afghan Women and Girls move forward” Photo Exhibition
March 7th, 2012
On the eve of International Women’s Day, the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to present a unique exhibition of photographs called “Towards a Healthier Future: Afghan Women and Girls move forward.”
The exhibit, consisting of photos by eleven different photographers, presents the viewer with a glimpse into the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan. The photos focus on health and education of Afghan women and girls and detail the challenges and difficulties that still persist for women and girls. However, on a more positive note, they also shows the evident progress that has been made in the country since the fall of the Taliban.
The attendees were addressed by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, Laura Laski, Chief of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Unit for UNFPA, and Dr. Ian Pett, Chief of Health Systems and Strategic Planning for UNICEF, who all made insightful speeches.
Ambassador Tanin gave remarks about the distance Afghanistan has traveled since the dark days of 2001 when Afghan Government inherited one of the worst situations for women in the world. Ambassador Tanin said, “we lived in a male-centered, anti-woman society that expelled women into the darkest corners of the periphery with limited of no access to health services…now we live in a society where 60 percent of Afghan women are now receiving antenatal care from skilled attendants.” Ambassador Tanin then went on to report the significant improvements in current maternal mortality rates in comparison to ten years prior. The time and effort invested by many international groups along with the Government of Afghanistan in infrastructure, education and health care have thus clearly paid off.
H.E. Ambassador Tanin subsequently detailed how the pictures currently on display serve as important reminders to all of us that, “the well being of Afghan women is vital for the future of the country. Not because of the fact that women are half of totality, but because women are essential and irreplaceable for human society. Without women, there is no enduring humanity.” These words, not only powerful and insightful, were also timely given that they were spoken on the evening before International Women’s Day.
Ambassador Tanin then concluded his remarks by stating, “it is my hope that as the UN Ambassadors and all UN people involved in Afghanistan see these photos on their way to meetings and consultations and will be reminded of the plight of Afghan women. This wonderful collection of photos is also a reminder that we must not allow the women of Afghanistan to slip from the grasp of our conscience or that of the international community.”
Dr Jacob Kumaresan, Executive Director of WHO in New York, concluded the evening, and spoke of the cooperation and continuing partnership between the Afghan Government and the vital UN agencies such as WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA who work to ensure the healthy future of Afghan women and girls. The exhibit will be on display until the 16th of March in the Boat Room located at the Delegates Entrance of UN Headquarters.