Today, the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan hosted a colloquium on “Perspectives on Afghan Women: 2014 and beyond”. The event was made possible with the support of the UNODC and ACUNS, and took place at the Vienna International Center.
H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani opened the colloquium with a statement which started by thanking the international community for the support it has given to Afghanistan. He also highlighted the growing participation of women in all levels of government and civil society, which was embodied in the two guest panelists, Ms. Farkhunda Naderi, a current member of the Afghan National Assembly, and Ms. Mahbouba Seraj, Executive Board Member and Chair of the Afghan Women’s Network.
After a second short welcoming statement by UNODC Director Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Ms. Naderi took the floor, giving a passionate statement which highlighted the progress that Afghanistan has made over the past 13 years, but also its many remaining challenges regarding women’s rights. She praised the Afghan people on its determination and courage in nourishing democracy, as seen by impressive voter turnout rates, especially for women, in its recent presidential election.
Ms. Naderi was followed by Ms. Seraj and gave an equally fervent address entreating the international community to maintain its support for Afghanistan, as democracy in the country “has just taken its first steps and must be allowed to grow”. She also stressed the importance of engaging the youth, calling them the brightest hope for the country’s future.
A Q&A session followed, where questions touched on a breadth of topics such as the emerging role of women in the area of security and the sovereignty of Afghanistan and its relationship with the International Community.
Ambassador Erfani closed the colloquium by thanking all those who helped organize the event, as well as all participants, stating that this dialogue provided “renewed energy” to continue the conversation about women in Afghanistan and the decade of transformation. He emphasized the role that men also have in improving women’s rights in Afghanistan and reiterated the commitment of the Afghan government to improving the role of women in Afghan society. He concluded by signifying how vital the continued support of the International Community is during this period and the gratitude for their support thus far.