Calls for women’s rights, inclusion heard at IWD 2018 events across Afghanistan
KABUL - Calls for increased protection of women’s rights and the inclusion of women in decision-making processes framed discussions at UN-backed events across Afghanistan.
This week and last, hundreds of women and men from government offices, religious institutions, academia, media and civil society gathered at events to mark International Women’s Day to draw attention to the rights, activism and struggles of urban and rural women alike.
In several provinces, including Bamyan, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar and Kunduz, participants called for robust strategies to include women in development initiatives, elections and peace negotiations.
“We have come a long way since 2001 and have had enormous progress in promoting women’s participation in public life, but challenges for a long-term solution remain,” said Tahir Zohair, Bamyan’s Governor, at a photographic exhibition organized to highlight women’s progress in the central highlands province.
During a radio roundtable discussion in the western province of Herat, participants stressed the need for concrete measures to include women, particularly rural women, in national decision-making, in keeping with Afghanistan’s National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan and the objectives described in the Sustainable Development Goals to leave no one behind.
In the southern province of Kandahar, at another event, participants stressed the importance of women’s participation in development, calling it “essential for building stronger and sustainable communities.”
At all the events backed by UNAMA’s regional offices, women and men expressed concern about the low levels of women’s participation in public life. Many said they want to see improvement in the number of women participating as voters and as candidates in the upcoming elections, and cited the creation of job opportunities and justice for victims of violence as priorities, especially for rural women.
While the government has put in place measures to promote the welfare of Afghan women, much remains to be done, particularly for rural women, many of whom lack access to basic services and job opportunities, and are poorer than their urban counterparts and more susceptible to a life of abuse and violence.
The UN maintains that gender equality is a fundamental human right and that women and girls across Afghanistan, especially rural women and girls, do not fully enjoy equal rights, which hinders their potential as economic, social and sustainable development agents.
Participants made key recommendations at the events, including addressing obstacles that hinder women’s meaningful participation in public life, such as security, violence and discrimination, and raising awareness across the nation about the importance of women’s rights.
Supported by UNAMA, the Women’s Day events and activities were part of a country-wide outreach initiative aimed at creating platforms for local communities to engage in dialogue on key issues.
The UN in Afghanistan supports the government’s stated efforts to strengthen the implementation of gender commitments in compliance with Afghanistan’s international obligations, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, along with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals initiative.