Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Afghan Women and Girls Move Forward Towards Progress and Happiness

“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.

 

 

Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Afghanistan

Panelists agree that Afghan women must not slip from the International conscious: Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Afghanistan

Wednesday 29th of February, 2012 by Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to United Nations

 

On Wednesday afternoon, the Permanent Missions of Afghanistan and Liechtenstein led a panel discussion on “Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Afghanistan.”  The panel discussion was held in large part to discuss the ongoing country-specific work.  The renewal of the mandate of the UN Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) in March 2012 is creeping up quickly and the need to provide relevant stakeholders a chance to voice their appreciated opinions and recommendations for the Security Council was crucial.  This critical discussion followed a workshop organized by the Mission of Liechtenstein from the 28th-30th of January in Liechtenstein that detailed concrete findings and recommendations for the Security Council on how to further promote the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Afghanistan.

 

The three panelists that participated in the discussion were H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan; H.E. Mr. Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein; and Wolfgang F. Danspeckgruber, the Founding Director of the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination.  In front of a full house of attendees from a wide range of backgrounds, the panelists agreed upon the necessary and vital role of Afghan women in the political, economic and social spheres.

 

H.E. Mr. Christian Wenaweser briefed attendees on the January report, noting, “the goal of the workshop was to agree upon recommendations for the Security Council on the UNAMA mandate that is up for renewal in March; these recommendations will hopefully facilitate negotiations.”  Ambassador Wenaweser discussed two main pillars that were at the forefront of the workshop: protection and participation.  Ambassador Wenaweser emphasised that, “there is a need to protect women from all forms of violence and for women to participate in all decision-making processes that take place in Afghanistan [as] this will help lead to lasting stability and security in the country and that is our main goal.”

 

Following Ambassador Wenaweser’s remarks, H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin addressed the attendees with a poignant speech situating the plight of Afghan women in a greater historical framework.  He began with a brief history into Afghanistan’s decades of conflict that women particularly “felt the wrath of,” emphasizing their long-lasting suffering and admirable survival. Ambassador Tanin then discussed three primary challenges that prevent the full inclusion of women, insecurity and the associated violence, social and economic exclusion of women and the extremist anti-culture that exists as the antithesis of social progress. Though Ambassador Tanin acknowledged the progress that has occurred over the past ten years, he warned that “[i]t is not enough. We must not only focus on the outcomes, but also on the steps required to reach them.” He stated that women’s emancipation was hand-in-hand with general human emancipation in Afghanistan. As such, he stressed the continued necessary involvement of the international community, noting that not “[e]ven the best constitution…will change the status of women without economic and social stability.” Ambassador Tanin explained that the people of Afghanistan and the international community must continue their firm and uncompromising commitment to the Afghan women, Afghanistan as a whole and strengthen efforts encouraging the strong mobilization of women to defend their rights. Ambassador Tanin highlighted the challenges ahead and asked the international community for its continued support for Afghan women.

 

Professor Danspeckgruber ended introductory remarks with a mention of his long history with Afghanistan and echoed Ambassadors Wenaweser and Tanin’s belief in the vitality of Afghan women in society. Professor Danspeckgruber noted that, “it is impossible to perceive the future of Afghanistan without taking into account the women in Afghanistan.”  He also stated that, “it depends on how the Afghan women feel, not [how] the international community feels, whether the Afghan women feel better today than they did before.”  He noted that he partially spoke from a personal perspective with regards to his experience with Afghan widows who have suffered tremendous losses and continue to do so.

 

In his closing remarks, Ambassador Tanin said, “as we continue to strive and build on our progress, initiatives such as today’s event and workshop of earlier this year, help us sustain the international community’s continued involvement which is needed to support these efforts.  We must not allow the women’s issue to slip from the grasp of our conscious or that of the international community.”