Saturday, August 30, 2014

Advancing Afghan Women: Promoting Peace and Progress in Afghanistan

Remarks of Ambassador Dr. Zahir Tanin Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At Advancing Afghan Women: Promoting Peace and Progress in Afghanistan

Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

I, as a representative of Afghanistan, am humbled by the strong words of commitment expressed by Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary Clinton, Former First Lady Laura Bush, Ambassador Verveer and other eminent speakers before me including the Foreign Minister of Norway. I am also pleased to see the representatives of Afghan women, present today here, at this impressive scene of solidarity with and dedication to the advancement of the rights of women in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, a new history is in the making: following a decade of extraordinary engagement of the international community, the country is entering a new phase, taking its density in its hands. At the end of next year, international forces will leave.  In a few months time, Afghanistan will arrive at its first peaceful democratic transition.  In a few days, Afghan representatives, in a consultative Loya Jirga, will discuss the security pact that lies at the core of Afghan-United States strategic relations.  Afghans look to the future, as Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized, with great hope and great concern; hope for a new beginning, for bold steps towards peace and transformation, and concern about the danger of returning to the nightmare of the destructive wars of the 1990s and the brutality of the Taliban.

Afghan women bore the brunt of war and extremism, which shattered their lives and families and diminished them to almost nothing.  They fear more than anyone else that they will lose what has been achieved, but they have more hope than anyone else that a better future will be built.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The emancipation of women has been strong in the mind of Afghanistan since the beginning of the 20th century. Women were already making inroads into the modern world before conflict and the fanaticism behind it silenced them and drowned them out.  The end of the Taliban era opened a new horizon and steps were taken to elevate women’s status, restore their rights, and strengthen their role as equal participants in building a new democratic Afghanistan.

However, there remains an urgent need to solidify the Afghan woman’s stake in the future.  The government of Afghanistan believes that the touchstone for the advancement of women is their active participation in the peace process, in elections, in social and political life, and in the economic development of the country.

In the last few years, women joined the High Peace Council, participated in a number of regional peace talks, and were largely represented in the Consultative Loya Jirgas.  Today, women are among the candidates for the presidential and provincial elections and the government and electoral authorities are doing their utmost to ensure the inclusion of women voters in elections. The role of women in social, political and economic life is improving. However, it is vital that we ensure their voices are heard, and that their role is not only symbolic, but genuine.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have listened today to tremendous support for and the calls for the inclusion of women in Afghanistan and the protection and promotion of their rights. It was an amazing debate now, and we are very thankful, Secretary Clinton, for your expression of real friendship with Afghanistan, you as well as Secretary John Kerry and  other leaders from the United States are seen, Madam Ambassador Verveer, as real friends of my country.  Continuing support is essential to ensure that these goals that were emphasized today are reached, and the Afghan government is committed to work for the advancement of women in the country, as enshrined in our constitution, alongside our partners.

Thank you.