Speech of Ahmad Zahir Faqiri, Deputy Ambassador , Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations ,
I would first like to thank UN Women and the Permanent Mission of Sweden for co-sponsoring this important and informative event on the future of Women in my country, Afghanistan. I would also like to take a moment to recognize all of the exceptional and insightful speakers that have joined us today.
My country and its people have collectively suffered through the more than three decades of war and conflict,it is women who have particularly felt the consequences. Afghan women have been the target of physical violence as well as structural violence on the part of extremist organizations that sought to systematically subjugate Afghan women.
In the last ten years the Government of Afghanistan has worked tirelessly to provide women with equal standing in all aspects of life in Afghan society. Despite many hurdles, we have already seen women in Afghanistan living a significantly different life then they did just ten years ago.
The amelioration of women’s living conditions in Afghanistan is exemplified in numerous areas of private and public life, ranging from education to politics from economic to development opportunity. I am proud to share with you some of these encouraging developments: Educational opportunities have grown increasingly accessible to Afghan women and girls. Women and girls attend school at record numbers; out of 6.2 million students, women and girls make up 41% in primary education and 20% of students enrolled in universities and higher education are female.
Ensuring the rights of women is only half the battle; we also need to see the full participation of women in building and maintaining peace and security , amelioration of economy, sustainable development and etc in my country. The representation of women in governance and political participation has been steadily increasing. We have succeeded in holding two Presidential and two parliamentary elections, in which women actively participated as candidates, election staff, poll watchers and electorates. Women comprise 27 percent of the parliament making Afghanistan the 30th in the world with the highest representation of women in Parliament. The Afghanistan National Parliament has also established a resource centre for women parliamentarians to enhance their capacity to include women’s voices and perspectives effectively in the national development and reconstruction plans.
We have begun implementation of the 10 year National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA) based upon the priorities of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. As part of this action plan (NAPWA)we have established Gender Units in 17 of 25 government ministries, however, even with a 10 year time line, accelerated efforts need to be made to ensure the full implementation of such a comprehensive action plan with vital goals that include 30 percent of governmental positions held by women by the end of 2013 and a target of 35 percent participation of female students in universities by the end of 2013.
We have also made strides in the rule of law, we have established the national Commission on Elimination of Violence against Women following enactment of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women. This is vital in enhancing Afghan women’s access to legal redress, sending the strong message that the Afghan government is committed to the rights of women and ensuring that there is no impunity for those who violate them.
The UN has played a significant role in the future of women in Afghanistan. We at the Mission have participated in important panel discussions, Security Council debates, General Assembly debates, and exhibits on the issue of Women in Afghanistan in the past, present and future. The UN and its organs such as UN Women have established the much-needed dialogue on Women in Afghanistan, so we can learn from expert’s knowledge and other countries post-war experiences with Women’s rights.
While we have made incredible strides for women in Afghanistan, there is still much work to be done.
When reviewing these facts and figures, let us not lose sight of the great personal risk that these women undertake in order to participate in the governance of their country and their future. I wish to take this opportunity to honor the women who continue take risks to assume an active role in the future direction and peace of our country.
Unfortunately, the last Four decade of war and unrest cast a dark shadow on Century-old established values, like respect for women has been pushed back by extremism and the military war culture. I was heartbroken to learn about the 120 schoolgirls who were poisoned by Taliban extremists last week. Our greatest weapon in defeating extremism is education, and the Taliban know it. Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security said that the Taliban appear intent on closing down schools that teach women ahead of a 2014 withdrawal of NATO troops. I envision a post-2014 Afghanistan where women enjoy the protection of a just rule of law that protects women with equal Afghan rights. Post-2014 Afghanistan has a lot of uncertainty, but these challenges will be met head-on
We need to make a firm commitment on the improvement of women’s status as a long-term priority, and we have. While no one can erase what has already been done, we will continue to reverse the disturbing trend of violence against women. I am proud of the progress that our women have made, and we are grateful for the insights and support of the international community. Women right is human right and your dedication to Afghan women’s rights is indicative of our shared commitment to the protection of the rights of all women, men, and children worldwide.
I thank you