June 16, 2016
Some 70 women representing all 34 provinces in Afghanistan recently came together for a historic gathering at the presidential palace in Kabul to share their perspectives, opinions and thoughts at the Third Symposium on Afghan Women’s Empowerment and Their Role in Society.
The event was held May 20-22 under the auspices of the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Afghan Women’s Network and the Office of the First Lady of Afghanistan, and with financial support from the United States and Norway. A total of more than 300 participants from Afghanistan, national and international government agencies, NGOs, and civil society attended.
Welcoming remarks from H.E the First Lady Rula (Bibi Gul) Ghani and a speech by the 2nd Vice President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, H.E Sarwar Danish opened a series of panel discussions on the involvement and participation of Afghan women in Islamic culture, the justice system, politics, the economy, the media, and women’s health, education, and security.
The two-day conference produced a slate of recommendations designed to build on the pro-woman policies that the Afghan government has already implemented and continues to pursue.
Highlights of the recommendations include: Strengthening the justice system to address cases of violence against women; promoting women’s political participation at all leadership levels, particularly in the provinces and districts; securing women’s equal access to economic resources at the provincial, district and village levels and supporting businesswomen at the national and international levels; improving women’s access to health facilities throughout the country; and creating mobile clinics for the treatment of psychological ailments in provincial centers.
The National Unity Government has made the empowerment and elevation of women in Afghanistan a national priority and has moved forward on several fronts with reforms aimed at helping women educationally and economically, and improving their status.
Keynote speakers at the event included H.E Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, H.E Salahudin Rabbani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Women’s Affairs H.E Dilbar Nazari; U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Olson, Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende; and Marriët Schuurman, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also hosted a reception at which a documentary showcasing the progress of Afghan women, “Yesterday and Today,” was screened. Attendees included H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of Afghanistan, H.E. the First Lady of Afghanistan, parliamentarians, ministers, ambassadors and special representatives from the United States, Norway, Europe and NATO.
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