On 13 March, Ambassador Tanin welcomed women’s rights advocates, government representatives and United Nations officials to Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations to discuss the status of women’s rights in Afghanistan. The debate, co-organized with UN Women and convened during the historic 59th session of the Commission of the Status of Women, aimed to provide an update on the trends indicating women’s progress in Afghanistan. Besides falling at the end of the fist week of the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women, the event also aimed to set the stage for an issue area to be discussed at the upcoming Beijing +20 conference.
Speakers at the event included Ms. Lakshmi Puri, the Assistant Secretary-General for Intergovernmental Support and Strategic Partnerships at UN Women; H.E. Ms. Sayeda Mojgan Mostafavai, Acting Minister of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA); Mr. Abdul Waseh Arian, Deputy General of the Ministry of Education; Ms. Khojesta Fana, Deputy of Human Rights in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ms. Najia Tariq, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Health, and Ms. Habiba Sarabi, Advisor to the Chief Executive of Afghanistan on issues concerning women and girls.
The First Lady of Afghanistan, H.E. Rula Ghani also contributed a video recording of her statement on women’s progress in Afghanistan to the meeting. In addition to the panelists, various representatives from other Member States’ missions and delegations as well as members of civil society were in attendance.
The event served as a stock-taking initiative in light of Afghanistan’s recent political transition. Panelists shared their perspective on the challenges still facing women’s rights in Afghanistan and the various achievements women have won in their endeavors to create a fair and safe society where women and girls have equal access to the social, economic and political space. The event applauded the efforts of the UN’s annual Commission on the Status of Women and served as an opportunity for Afghanistan to reiterate its commitment to women’s equality.
In his remarks, Ambassador Tanin highlighted the government’s commitment to the principle of including women in peace and security efforts and underscored the importance of capacity building to enhance women’s leadership in areas such as rule of law, justice, and government. The First Lady reiterated the role equal access to economic space can play in helping women to achieve a greater level of control in their professional lives and how more women in managerial levels can transform Afghanistan’s diverse industries for the better.
Other panelists focused on the improvements in the education and healthcare systems in Afghanistan. In both these sectors, major changes have occurred to empower women. For example, Mr. Arian revealed in his brief that hundreds of thousands of women and girls have enrolled in Afghan academic institutions since 2002 and that the government is progressively innovating “alternative pathways” to help education services reach girls in remote and insecure areas.
The event provided an open and transparent space for the Afghan government and its international partners to discuss commitments made and opportunities ahead related to the promotion of women’s rights and equality in Afghanistan.