The Permanent Mission of Afghanistan an UN Women Host a Panel Discussion on the Status of Women in Afghanistan
Press Release: The Permanent Mission of Afghanistan an UN Women Host a Panel Discussion on the Status of Women in Afghanistan
On 13 March, Ambassador Tanin welcomed women’s rights advocates, government representatives and United Nations officials to Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations to discuss the status of women’s rights in Afghanistan. The debate, co-organized with UN Women and convened during the historic 59th session of the Commission of the Status of Women, aimed to provide an update on the trends indicating women’s progress in Afghanistan. Besides falling at the end of the fist week of the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women, the event also aimed to set the stage for an issue area to be discussed at the upcoming Beijing +20 conference.
Speakers at the event included Ms. Lakshmi Puri, the Assistant Secretary-General for Intergovernmental Support and Strategic Partnerships at UN Women; H.E. Ms. Sayeda Mojgan Mostafavai, Acting Minister of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA); Mr. Abdul Waseh Arian, Deputy General of the Ministry of Education; Ms. Khojesta Fana, Deputy of Human Rights in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ms. Najia Tariq, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Health, and Ms. Habiba Sarabi, Advisor to the Chief Executive of Afghanistan on issues concerning women and girls.
The First Lady of Afghanistan, H.E. Rula Ghani also contributed a video recording of her statement on women’s progress in Afghanistan to the meeting. In addition to the panelists, various representatives from other Member States’ missions and delegations as well as members of civil society were in attendance.
The event served as a stock-taking initiative in light of Afghanistan’s recent political transition. Panelists shared their perspective on the challenges still facing women’s rights in Afghanistan and the various achievements women have won in their endeavors to create a fair and safe society where women and girls have equal access to the social, economic and political space. The event applauded the efforts of the UN’s annual Commission on the Status of Women and served as an opportunity for Afghanistan to reiterate its commitment to women’s equality.
In his remarks, Ambassador Tanin highlighted the government’s commitment to the principle of including women in peace and security efforts and underscored the importance of capacity building to enhance women’s leadership in areas such as rule of law, justice, and government. The First Lady reiterated the role equal access to economic space can play in helping women to achieve a greater level of control in their professional lives and how more women in managerial levels can transform Afghanistan’s diverse industries for the better.
Other panelists focused on the improvements in the education and healthcare systems in Afghanistan. In both these sectors, major changes have occurred to empower women. For example, Mr. Arian revealed in his brief that hundreds of thousands of women and girls have enrolled in Afghan academic institutions since 2002 and that the government is progressively innovating “alternative pathways” to help education services reach girls in remote and insecure areas.
The event provided an open and transparent space for the Afghan government and its international partners to discuss commitments made and opportunities ahead related to the promotion of women’s rights and equality in Afghanistan.
On 5 March, the East West Institute opened a two-day roundtable meeting of the Joint U.S. Russia Working Group on Afghan Narco-Trafficking. The Working Group aims to enable the United States, Russia, Afghanistan and other countries in the region to collaborate to combat the narcotics threat in Afghanistan. Over the course of the two-day meeting, diplomats, academic experts, practitioners at the East West Institute’s offices in New York City discussed Afghanistan’s counter-narcotics policies and ways to collaborate to combat the threat of narcotics in the future.
Representatives of the government of Afghanistan in attendance at the meeting included Mr. Ashraf Haidari, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Afghanistan in New Delhi; Mr. Farhad Basharyar Parwany, Desk Manager of Counter Narcotics at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan; Ms. Asila Wardak, Minister Counselor at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations; and Mr. Rafiullah Naseri, Second Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations.
East West Institute’s Vice President David Firestein opened the debate, providing a background of the work of the group and highlighting its most recent report, “Post-2014 Scenarios”. He then gave the floor to H.E. Ambassador Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, who framed the debate and discussed the policies of the government of Afghanistan.
Welcoming participants, Ambassador Tanin noted that the persistence of narcotics in Afghanistan poses a serious threat to the country’s stability. “The narcotics trade has major consequences for the social, political, economic and security arenas in the country,” he said, and is fueled by the interrelated problems of crime, insecurity, terrorism, and corruption. Narcotics also have a severely detrimental societal impact, with over 2 million severely addicted in Afghanistan today.
The government of Afghanistan has recently pledged to prioritize drug control as a key element of its reform agenda. The government will “intensify efforts to control narcotic production and sale by adopting a broad approach targeting both the production base as well as the handling and refining of narcotics,” Ambassador Tanin explained.
Ambassador Tanin was clear to emphasize that drug control is ultimately a global issue. “The only way to truly address these issues is through genuine, comprehensive global and regional strategies to implement both drug-demand and drug-supply reduction measures,” he explained.
The roundtable continued until its closing on 6 March, with a series of sessions on various aspects of international and regional counter-narcotics efforts. The meeting allowed participants to consider constructive ways to work together to counter the production and trafficking of narcotics in Afghanistan, a goal which participants agreed would enhance security and stability in the country, the region and the world.