KABUL - The United Nations in Afghanistan marks International Women’s Day today, recognizing the global movement for women’s rights and the work of activists who have been central to the push for gender equality.
The theme for this year’s Women’s Day is ‘Time Is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives.’
Afghanistan ranks 154th in the UN Gender Inequality Index, and this year’s Women’s Day aims to draw attention to rural and urban women who are left behind in many areas of development.
The UN welcomes the entry into force on 14 February 2018 of a new penal code that contains several progressive provisions, which, coupled with the new law on the elimination of harassment against women and children, significantly improves the legal framework to protect women and girls at home or at work.
The Afghan government has pledged to increase the presence of women in government to 30 per cent by 2020, yet, for now, women’s participation countrywide is below this target. The UN holds that effort should be doubled to ensure that women’s voices are heard in public and women are members of key decision-making bodies such as the Supreme Court or holders of senior positions such as governorships or ministerial appointments.
The government’s national priority programme to empower women economically is a key step forward to opening more doors for women’s participation throughout Afghan society. The UN encourages the government to prioritize investment in education, healthcare and business financing for women to reduce the gap between women and men and foster gender equality.
The UN welcomes the government’s work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in Afghanistan, including to address the needs of urban and rural women and girls. “Empowering urban and rural Afghan women is essential to reducing poverty, inequality, and violence against women,” said Toby Lanzer, acting head of the UN in Afghanistan. “As last week’s second meeting of the Kabul Process highlighted, empowering women is also vital because real reconciliation hinges on women’s full and meaningful participation in the peace process.”
Gender equality is a human right and providing women and girls full access to education, healthcare, work as well as to representation in political and economic spheres will fuel peace and sustainable development. The UN will continue to foster gender equality and expand opportunities for urban and rural women in Afghanistan in 2018 and beyond.