United Nations Afghanistan commends Afghan women

Islamabad (Office of the United Nations Co-ordinator for Afghanistan), 8 March 2000 - "United Nations agencies working for Afghanistan salute and commend Afghan women for their dedication to their families and society," said Acting United Nations Co-ordinator Ahmed Farah at the press briefing today in the Office of the United Nations Co-ordinator for Afghanistan. Women are essential to the development of any society, and development is key to peace, he added.

"Vulnerable Afghan woman face a daily fight for survival," Farah said.

Despite difficult circumstances, in which women struggle to obtain such basics as health care, clean water, shelter, heating, food and education, Farah noted that gradual, and welcome progress has been made, both by and for women in Afghanistan, especially in the fields of medicine and education. This has been accomplished, he said, through negotiations with Afghan authorities.

He delineated the ongoing contribution of United Nations agencies to women and children in Afghanistan, especially in the areas of food aid, mine action, sanitation, refugee return, health, and income generation and micro-credit for women. "The importance of UN activities in these areas, where systems and the economy have collapsed, cannot be overstated," he said.

He emphasized that the United Nations system in Afghanistan on International Women's Day renews its commitment to assisting all Afghan people in need, regardless of gender, whenever and wherever they need it.

In honor of women's day, he noted that UN agencies had come forward with specific activities in education and health benefiting women and girls. These include the launch of a training programme for female nurses in Kandahar, who will be trained for full three years under a joint WHO/WFP project. WHO is donating antibiotics and analgesics to Rabia Balkhi women's hospital in Kabul. UNHCR is today inaugurating two schools in southern Afghanistan for boys and girls who are returning refugees, while the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is launching a project to help reverse the brain drain by assisting qualified women doctors to return to Afghanistan. In addition, Habitat (UNCHS) and UNICEF are pursuing advocacy activities for women in Afghanistan on this day, which will bring together groups of women to recognize their achievements and to discuss their hopes and concerns.

To a question, Mr. Farah noted that, as in other countries in conflict, it is women and children who have suffered most. He added that International Women's Day is a day for all to devote extra consideration to how Afghan women can continue to be empowered, and receive the help they need.


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