STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal
Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security
(Check against delivery)
27 October 2017
Let me thank the Mission of France for convening this meeting on Women, Peace and Security. Let me also thank all the speakers making strong positive references to Afghanistan’s progress with women in general. However, there is no place for complacency; we remain steadfast in our resolve to improve the lives of half of our population. The role of women is inextricable for the promotion of peace and security worldwide. Experience has also shown that the full involvement and participation of women is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary for advancement of society, as well for preventing and resolving conflicts.
Today’s meeting is of particular importance for my country Afghanistan – a country that has seen decades of imposed conflict, including terrorism and violent extremism; all of which left our institutions and social fabric in shambles.
Afghan women have borne the disproportionate burden of violence and suffering for a long period of time. Their basic rights and fundamental freedoms were completely denied under the Taliban rule, as they had no access to education, healthcare, and employment. Needless to say, the plight of Afghan women has seen profound improvements since the fall of the Taliban regime, which marked the start of a new era in our modern history.
Since 2001, we have seen tremendous progress across all spectrums of society. Today, the National Unity Government is consolidating gains of the past years. Women’s equality in all spheres remains an important national priority, as we are committed to furthering women’s participation and role in all stages of decision-making, particularly in relation to peace and security issues. Our commitment to women’s empowerment is embedded in a firm resolve to meet our pledges, within the framework of national and international obligations, including the principles of the UN Charter and the international treaties, which we are party to.
To this end, the Government of Afghanistan is sparing no effort to meet the goals of Security Council Resolution 1325. The Afghanistan National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security remains the overarching framework to implement that hallmark resolution. A key component of our strategy relates to ensuring women’s participation in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, as well as other matters related to peace and security.
Ending the cycle of terror, violence, and conflict in Afghanistan is the surest way to protect and promote the rights of all our citizens, particularly women. In this respect, women are front and center in our national peace process as members of the High Peace Council; civil society; human rights advocates; members of parliament and Government. Accordingly, the participation of women in peace building efforts is recognized as a prerequisite for peace and reconstruction across the country. In the broader context, there is a common acknowledgement that durable peace and stability in Afghanistan requires the participation of women in all aspects of society: be it social, political or economic.
The National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan, spanning the years 2008-2018, commits the Afghan Government to increase women’s representation in the civil service to 30 percent. The Ministries of Interior and National Defense have committed to increase women’s representation in these institutions by 20 percent over the next ten years. Further, my delegation is pleased to report that at present, over 3,000 female armed service members and police officers are proudly serving in our national security forces for the protection of our citizens, combating international terrorism and preserving law and order.
In the economic domain, the launch of the National Program for Women’s Economic Empowerment marked another important step forward in the advancement of women. This development has supported 67,000 women in agriculture activities and empowered 35,000 women in the livestock sector. Moreover, the program is also recruiting 3,000 female teachers and 900 community midwives and nurses.
The physical protection of women from any form of violence constitutes an integral component of our national efforts to empower women. Numerous national structures have been established to enforce Constitutional and legislative provisions protecting women. These include: The Ministry of Women’s Affairs; Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission; Eliminating Violence Against Women Commissions in Kabul and provinces; creation of the post of Deputy Attorney General for the Elimination of Violence Against Women; and the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Abuse of Women and Children. These national structures are integral to the Government’s promotion and protection of women’s rights and implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325.
Amidst all our gains, we recognize the imperative of sustaining and enhancing progress on all fronts for women’s empowerment. We can say with confidence that Afghanistan has entered a new phase in our journey to transform women’s role into a powerful force of change, contributing to the vision of a Self-Reliant nation, that stands in lasting peace, tranquilly and stability. We are confident in our success, but the support of the international community remains of crucial importance to realize that vision. Taking this opportunity, we extend a deep debt of gratitude to all friends and partners that have and continue to render an important contribution in our efforts. We look forward to continuing our collaboration to elevate our progress in the protection and empowerment of Afghan women to new heights.