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afghanistan ambassadorThe following remarks were delivered by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob M. Erfani, Ambassador and Permament Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations and International Organizations in Vienna, to a full-house audience for a side event at the 22nd Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

At a time when the roles and rights of women in Afghanistan are a subject of great international interest, Ambassador Erfani’s observations are especially pertinent and thus are provided here without editing, for interested ACUNS readers who could not attend the CCPCJ itself or this particular ACUNS co-sponsored side event (one of several side events co-sponsored by the ACUNS Vienna Liaison Office). Download the remarks (PDF)

“Women’s role in Central Asia in view of the 2014 Afghanistan transition”

Vienna, April 24, 2013  |  Welcome Address by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob M. Erfani

Dear colleagues,

I warmly welcome you all to this important side event and wish to thank our co-organizers UNODC, ACUNS and the University of Graz for their excellent work.

The Government of Afghanistan attaches utmost importance to the enhancement of the role of women in our country and I cannot emphasize enough that the women of Afghanistan form an inclusive part of its society. We need to take all necessary measures to enable them to take their deserved, equal role in the reconstruction and stabilization process of Afghanistan. In order to achieve our noble goals, all government structures are tasked with the implementation of the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan 2008-2018 (NAPWA), which rests on three pillars: 1) Security 2) Governance, Rule of Law, and Human Rights 3) Economic and Social Development.

Clearly, the drawdown of ISAF forces poses some challenges, mostly in the context of economic matters, yet offers fresh opportunities related to leadership, ownership and redistribution of responsibilities, also along gender lines. In order to balance against possible negative implications, my Government is highly ambitious in its activities to create further opportunities for Afghan women to engage in the transition process. It will be crucial to mitigate any negative impacts of economic strains. In order to achieve this goal, the Government has developed a set of mechanisms apt to increase women’s participation in the economy. We are seeking provision of micro-credits to help Afghan women setting up small businesses.

Let me mention two main factors responsible for impeding women’s progress including occupational advancement in the past: 1) Lacking of education for girls 2) Absence of a prominent role for women in economic development. Please be assured that we keep working hard to change this narrative.

Again, Afghanistan is determined to continuously advance the position of women in all relevant areas, including human rights, education and training, health, political participation, and socio-economic progress.

Remember, in 2001 the number of students in Afghanistan was less than 1 million, and boys only. We achieved that 40% of the currently 8 million students in Afghanistan are girls, and we will continue to push both figures. This will trigger a favorable snowball effect, as those educated women will make sure that all of their children will go to school. It is our goal to reduce illiteracy to an absolute minimum.

In order to accomplish enduring economic reconstruction and political stabilization in the country, full and equal participation of the women of Afghanistan in all spheres of society is indispensable, and the Government will continue to utilize all available mechanisms and will support all efforts towards mainstreaming a gender perspective into all its policies for the advancement of the women of Afghanistan.

We will continue to promote women’s active participation in economic and political sectors. Women actively participated in recent elections in Afghanistan and will do so again in the elections to be held next year, hopefully in even greater numbers. Today, Afghan women make up 27 percent of legislators in the parliament, and occupy 25% of government jobs, 9% of which at decision-making level.

Other key areas for significant women’s participation are the process of reconciliation as well as peace and security. It is our goal to further increase the number of women serving in our security forces and also to train them to work as moderators in the field of early-warning and conflict prevention. This includes affirmative action policies. We strive to build and sustain a secure environment that enables women to live a life free from intimidation, fear and violence, and which supports their participation and leadership in promoting and maintaining peace and security.

Afghan women hold 24 percent of posts in our health sector and 30 percent of posts in the agriculture sector, and account for more than 50% of the country’s vibrant, independent and free media as well as the active civil society groups, both of which are among the most visible and concrete achievements of the past decade.

My Government remains committed to fully implement all international agreements it has signed, including UNSCR 1325 (2000) to empower women, ensuring equal opportunities across all areas of public life and greater participation in the reconstruction process.

Following my short welcome remarks, Mr. Fedotov will deliver his opening remarks, presenting an overview of security, crime prevention and relevant frameworks in West and Central Asia, followed by a brief statement from Madam Ambassador Imanalieva of the Kyrgyz Republic. Thereafter, Prof. Kreussmann of the University of Graz will have a presentation, followed by remarks from Ms. Kosmukhamedova of UNODC on women’s conditions in the public health sector. Our last speaker will be Madam Ambassador Beham, OSCE’s Senior Adviser on Gender Issues, sharing her account on OSCE’s policy on preventing violence against women and women’s participation in the conflict cycle. After that, we all will be happy to answer your questions.

I thank you all for your active participation and valuable inputs.