March 7, 2016
On behalf of the Government of Afghanistan, I congratulate and honor women around the world on International Women’s Day 2016. Since 1975, this has been a day to celebrate all women, everywhere.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “gender parity”. This is the central idea behind the Government of Afghanistan’s efforts to improve the lives of Afghan girls and women. We have made it a national priority to empower women economically, elevate their social status, and create opportunities for women to participate equally in the future of our country.
President Ashraf Ghani and First Lady Rula Ghani are passionate about changing the reality for millions of Afghan women by improving their access to justice, health care, and education, and by expanding their ability to earn their own money and build their dreams.
Just a few highlights of what President Ghani and the National Unity Government have done so far:
• Issued a decree ordering the review of all cases of women detained on accusation of moral crimes. Out of 402 women detained, 255 have already been released;
• Appointed two women as governors;
• Nominated the first Afghan woman to be a Supreme Court judge;
• The Supreme Court issued a ruling that barred the common practice of imprisoning women who run away from their families;
• Approved an anti-harassment regulation to improve working environments for women in the public sector that addresses complaints related to harassment, support for victims of harassment, prevention of harassment, and opportunities for women in employment and education; and
• Established the country’s first Trust Fund for Victims of Violence Against Women: President Ghani and First Lady Rula Ghani inaugurated the fund by making the first donations themselves. President Ghani also announced that all members of his Cabinet would donate 15 percent of one month’s salary to the Fund.
These actions and many more by the government – particularly in the areas of economic empowerment and educational opportunities — set an example at the highest level that women must not be treated as second-class citizens. Afghanistan still has far to go on women’s rights and status, but the National Unity Government will continue to lead the way, and to lead by example.