Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Afghan Delegation Participates in 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

New York, 17 March 2018 – On Monday, 12 March 2018, the United Nations celebrated the opening of the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world came to New York to attend the session. The priority theme for this year is “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”.

On this important occasion, a delegation headed by H.E. Delbar Nazari, Minister of Women’s Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, was in New York to participate in the session and engage meaningfully with the international community, present Afghanistan’s achievements and challenges, and share best practices and lessons learned.

On Wednesday, 14 March, the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan organized a side event on the theme “Women, Peace, and Security: Challenges and Achievements”. This event constituted a precious occasion to present and discuss Afghanistan’s efforts in the implementation of the first ever National Action Plan (NAP) on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (on Women, Peace, and Security) and its linkages with the Government’s efforts in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to ensure the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Panelists included Minister Nazari, Ms Habiba Sarabi, Deputy Chairperson of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, H.E. Anne Meskanen, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women Issues and Gender Equality at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, as well as, Dr. Miwa Kato, Regional Director of UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

During the same day, Minister Nazari delivered Afghanistan’s statement at the general debate segment of the session. In the speech, she highlighted the critical importance of women as powerful agents of change and spoke about the need to empowering rural women to uplift Afghan society. In this regard, Ms. Nazari presented Afghanistan’s National Priority Program on Women Economic Empowerment as a fundamental policy tool to provide women with educational programs to increase, among other aspects, their active participation in the economy.

On Thursday, 15 March, the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan organized a second side event on the theme “Afghan Government Initiatives and Measures for the Improvement of Rural Women’s Situation”. The event began with a video message from the First Lady of Afghanistan. The event among other key issues, focused on achievements and challenges of women and girls in Afghanistan with regards to education, political participation, and economic self-sufficiency. The discussion revolved around four main areas of work of the Government: refugees and internally displaced people, women’s contribution to agriculture and economy, women’s access to education, and women’s access to health care services. Panelists included Minister Nazari, H.E. Ine Eriksen Soreide, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Ms. Sajia Behgam, Senior Advisor to the Chief Executive of Afghanistan on Women and Youth Affairs, Ms. Najiba Nooristani, Head of the Gender Unit at the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan, and Dr. Zelaikhwa Anwari, Director of Reproductive Health at the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan. 
Both side events were moderated by H.E. Mahmoud Saikal, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations and witnessed wide and constructive participation from Member States and civil society representatives.

In addition to her participation to side events and the plenary sessions, Minister Nazari took part in bilateral meetings with the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women of Canada, H.E. Fatma Betül Sayan, Minister of Family and Social Policies of Turkey, and H.E. Dr. Shezra Mansab Ali Khan, Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan.

On Friday, 16 March, the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the UN co-hosted another CSW side event on how National Human Rights Institutions can advance gender equality and the rights of women and girls in rural areas. Afghanistan’s Chair of Independent Human Rights Commission Dr Sima Samar was a panelist and Deputy Permanent Representative Nazifullah Salarzai participated in the discussion.

The 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women was a moment of great importance for Afghanistan’s engagement on the world stage. The visit of the Afghan delegation, under the leadership of H.E. Nazari, was conducive to exchanging views, sharing lessons learned, and ways to tackle common challenges not only with other Member States, but also with the UN system and representatives of the civil society. Afghanistan’s engagement on an issue of vital importance for the country – women’s rights and their empowerment- was a testimony of the Government’s commitment to achieve full gender equality and ensure a prosperous future for the women and girls of Afghanistan.

 

Speech of H. E. Delbar Nazari, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Government of Afghanistan at the Sixty-Second Session of Commission on the Status of Women

 New York, 12 – 23 March 2018

In the name of God, the Merciful

 My country’s commitment towards gender equality and women’s empowerment is at the center of Afghanistan’s development plans, which are crucial to the realization of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. We believe that women are powerful agents of change – and empowering rural women is the key to the empowerment of society.

Mr. Chairman/Madame Chair, Honorable Ministers, Heads of Delegations, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning/afternoon!

As head of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GOIRA) delegation, it is an honor for me to express my government’s strong support to the priority theme, “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls” of 62nd Session of Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62). I am confident that the discussions, decisions and agreements of this important session will have a positive impact on the status of women and girls in our country.

The GOIRA, in cooperation with the United Nations, International Community, and Civil Society Organizations, is committed to women’s empowerment and gender equality and these themes remain at the center of all of Afghanistan’s priority programs. However, the struggle for gender equality, the empowerment of rural women and the full realization of the rights of women and girls in my country has a long way to go. Many women in rural areas continue to face widespread human rights violations, lack of access to justice, lack of access to health services and treatment, quality education, access to clean water, exposed to sexual harassment and other challenges.

Exacerbating these challenges is the persistent insecurity, terrorist threats and violent extremism, among other factors, that threaten the lives of all citizens, including women and girls. According to United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, a total number of 1,007 casualties (298 deaths and 709 injuries) occurred in the first three quarters of 2017, which represents a 13% increase in the total losses of women due to the armed conflict in Afghanistan. [1]

Afghanistan is currently in the process of drafting the third CEDAW periodic report and I am happy to report, to a large extent, the provisions of CEDAW have been incorporated into domestic laws and policies. Likewise; we have systematically incorporated the principles and provisions of gender equality into national plans in the areas of health, education, employment, political participation and access to justice. The Government of Afghanistan, as a committed member of the United Nations, is currently in the processes of approving the National Action Plan for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Further, the Afghan government’s efforts to implement the Security Council Resolution 1325 National Action Plan together with the civil society and the international community is ongoing.

In addition to the continue efforts towards the effective implementation of Elimination of Violence Against Women Law, the Parliament and the government have recently adopted the anti-harassment law of women and children, in which all forms of gender-based harassment, in the workplace and in the community, is prohibited.

I am pleased to announce that over the last year, the Government of Afghanistan has approved and implemented two major national priority programs for the advancement of Afghan women and girls:

  1. Citizens’ Charter is the first 10-year intergovernmental program, in which one-third of the country’s population, are provided services and work infrastructure to promote poverty reduction and improve quality of life. 
  2. The National Priority Program of Women Economic Empowerment focuses on two areas: First, the program provides women with educational programs to increase their skill level to ensure their active and productive participation in the economy; and second, it equips women business owners with initial technical and financial resources.

Further, in support of women and girl’s empowerment, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has developed several initiatives to increase women and girls’ participation in formal education. As part of the Ministry of Education’s 5-year Strategic plan, it aims to increase the enrollment of girls in rural areas by 50% and increase their inclusion in technical and vocational training up to 26%. To date, more than 9.3 million students across Afghanistan are enrolled in formal education, of which 3.5 million or 36% are girls. The Ministry of Higher Education plans to establish a dedicated university for women, increasing women’s participation in higher education institutions to 25% by the end of the next five years. Moreover, more than 240 women are currently serving as judges in the country’s judicial system, and women represent 21% of the members of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association, which is an advocate for women’s advancement in the justice sector.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen!

Afghanistan has taken many positive measures to empower women and girls and promote gender equality. But we still have a long way to go and improving the situation of women and girls, especially women in rural areas, requires concentrated efforts by government, the private sector, civil society organizations and the international community. Therefore, we call on the Government of Afghanistan and the international community to:

  1. Support Afghanistan, as a United Nations’ member State, to obtain the membership of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW);
  2. Ensure the prevention and protection measures to end sexual and gender-based violence are established through the full implementation of the EVAW Law;
  3. Ensure the establishment and implementation of sound financial mechanisms for the implementation of the National Action Plan 1325; and; and
  4. Ensure the implementation of the Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE-NPP) national priority program, which aims to remove the structural barriers to women’s access to economic activities and access to resources and skills development in the areas of trade, industry and agriculture.

Thank you for your attention, commitment and sustained support for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls in Afghanistan and throughout the world!

[1]https://unama.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/unama_protection_of_civilians_in_armed_conflict_quarterly_report_1_january_to_30_september_2017_-_dari.pdf

Operational Activities for Development Segment of the Economic and Social Council

STATEMENT BY Mr. Nazifullah Salarzai

Minister, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

 to the United Nations

at the General Debate of the Operational Activities for Development Segment of the Economic and Social Council

(Check against delivery)

1 March 2018

NEW YORK

Mr. Vice President,

At the outset, I would like to commend your efforts in organizing this important segment of the Economic and Social Council. My delegation associates itself with the statements delivered by Egypt on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, Bangladesh on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, and Paraguay on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries. I would now like to deliver few remarks in my national capacity.

I would like to highlight 3 key points:

  1. We should focus our efforts on bringing the humanitarian, development, and peace dimensions of our work closer together through this reform of the UN development system. This is the only way we can achieve a whole-of-system approach, critically needed in countries implementing the 2030 Agenda while faced by humanitarian crises and/or conflict. In this regard, we support the proposal outlined in paragraph 111 of the Secretary General’s report, to use the Operational Activities Segment to enhance guidance on the development system’s coordination with humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding efforts. We also support the proposals for Resident Coordinators being better prepared to work across the development-humanitarian-peacebuilding nexus, as well as the idea of incentivizing interagency mobility across UN pillars in order to strengthen the pipeline for Resident Coordinators of the future. Furthermore, we believe it is important to consolidate ECOSOC’s role as an intergovernmental space to reinforce the UN’s transition towards a culture of prevention and focus on results. On a similar note, we support the Secretary General’s decision to establish a Joint Steering Committee to advance Humanitarian and Development Collaboration.

 

  1. In creating a new generation of UN Country Teams and reinvigorating the Resident Coordinator system, we should keep in mind that our main goal is increasing quality, efficiency, and coordination of UN operations in host countries. Eliminating duplications of efforts and fragmentation of work, shaping UN country presence according to host Governments needs and priorities, reducing transaction costs at all levels and respecting national sovereignty and ownership of the development process are key elements in this regard. As a country hosting a significant volume of UN operations and a Special Political Mission, Afghanistan looks forward to a strengthened UN development system, able to step up its support for Government’s efforts through increased efficiency, transparency, and accountability. In this regard, we are hopeful that dual reporting lines, taken together with strengthened accountability, will result in greater impact on the ground and the achievement of collective results under the UNDAF.

 

  1. We believe that a revamped regional approach should be one of the main outcomes of the reform of the UN development system. Receiving tailored support in the field of regional connectivity and regional economic cooperation is vital for countries in special situations, in particular LDCs and LLDCs. It is important that the UN system steps up its capabilities in aligning its activities at the regional level with countries’ priorities and needs, as well as that Regional Economic Commissions achieve more coordination with other regional platforms, with a view to build synergies in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and reduce duplications and overlaps.

 

Mr. Vice President,

In conclusion, let me reassure you of my delegation’s commitment and continued constructive engagement in moving forward with the consideration of the Secretary General’s proposals for the reform of the UN development system.

I thank you.

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan