H.E. AMBASSADOR AYOOB ERFANI
at the G-77 “Living Well: Celebrating Unity for Prosperity”
Brainstorming for Santa Cruz panel discussion 0n 10th June 2014
Dear Members of the Panel,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank all Members of the Group for coming in such a great numbers to today’s G77+ China plenary discussion on ‘Living Well: Celebrating Unity for Prosperity’.
I am pleased to be a member of today’s panel to prepare ourselves for the upcoming summit in Santa Cruz, at such a time when the international community is making efforts to negotiate the Post–2015 Development Agenda and to formulate a new global development framework.We are all equally committed to the long-standing ideals of the G77 + China, which has proved itself to be a powerful voice for the majority of today’s global population, and to expressing our collective position on the direction of the global development agenda.
We are also realistic on the divergence of views in our group, of over one hundred and thirty States, on matters which are considered to be important to particular national or regional interests, and such divergence is not unexpected. However, we must work to ensure a possible common position, for the interests of every member of this group. We should emphasize the need for the United Nations’ more active participation in international economic and financial affairs, as well as its role in financing for development.
The upcoming summit in Santa Cruz will provide us with an excellent opportunity for discussion and dialogue on some of the most pressing development issues of our time such as youth employment, women’s empowerment and inclusive and sustainable development, particularly towards the achievement of ISID.
Let me express our congratulations to Sri Lanka for its proactive efforts as the current chair of the Group. Our dear friend Ambassador Abdul Aziz, we thank you, for initiating such a timely panel discussion on such issues that are highly important for all of us, including the elements contained in our today’s agenda:
– Sustainability and Development Challenges: Prospective of Youth for the post_2015 Development Agenda,
– What Living Well means for Women: A Development Path: Empowerment, Eradication of Poverty and Shared Prosperity”.
Based on last year’s estimated reports there are about 73 million unemployed young people, which make up around 40% of the world’s unemployed.
Youth unemployment, men and women, affects developed and developing countries alike. In such a time when the global impact of youth unemployment is rising, it is more urgent than ever for the G77 + China to play its role as global decision-maker to take effective and coordinated measures to establish youth employment and empowerment as national priorities.
The Santa Cruz summit will be a timely opportunity for the G77 + China to address the integration of youth issues into global, regional and national development priorities, especially during this critical time when youth unemployment continued to rise in our countries.
I’m truly delighted to be here to focus on the empowerment of young people, boys and girls – men and women, and ensuring their inclusive participation in the decision-making process and the implementation of the post-2015 Development Agenda.
While discussing the essential role of youth for our future and the role of woman in the post 2015 development agenda, we need to focus on:
- The critical role and courage of young people, their concerns, their energies, in the post-2015 development agenda process.
- Smart policies and investments, as well as the need to change some traditional habits to empower youth.
- To promote employment and income opportunities for young people, and to provide young people with the skills and competencies they require to be able to take advantage of these opportunities.
- To provide comprehensive yet occupation-orientated education as part of national education strategies.
- The advancement and protection of the rights of women.
- Mitigation of female poverty, through combating gender discrimination and full integration of women into the job market.
- Effective implementation of gender equality and the women’s rights agenda.
- Ensuring that gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment are regulated by law.
- Providing Job opportunities for women.
- Address concerns of lack of access to education and health, and lacking an equal voice in decision-making.
- Eliminating discrimination in laws, policies and practices,
- Putting an end to violence against women and girls in all its forms.
- Equal participation of women in decision-making in public and private institutions.
- Address the challenges of women in the new world order
Afghanistan is one of the founding members of the Group of 77. Since its foundation we have cooperated on promoting the exchange of economic interests and the strengthening of joint negotiation within the United Nations system.
With regard to today’s discussions, Afghanistan has made great efforts regarding the empowerment of youth and the promotion of gender equality. These issues are of high importance for us and have been part of the priorities under our MDGs-based National Development Strategy and still remain as key components of some of our National Priority Programs (PPPs) particularly under the human resources development cluster. On this note, I would like to inform you about some of our national developments in these areas of discussion.
Afghanistan has one of the world’s youngest and fastest growing populations. Around 70% of Afghanistan‘s population is below the age of 25. As we are entering the Transformation Decade, which will last from 2015 until 2024, it is critical for us to make strategic and well-coordinated investments in our young population, in order to help them realize their full potential. Concurrently, if we will not be able to provide employment to our youth, a big number of which are entering the labor markets every year, new social, and even security challenges will arise. Our experience in Afghanistan confirms that sustainable development will not be realized without the participation of youth as well as the equal and active involvement of women, at all levels, and in all spheres of society.
In this regard, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has adopted several laws, regulations and policies in the framework of the new Constitution of Afghanistan with a view to expand the access of Afghan Youth and women to health services, education, and employment opportunities in the country. However, decades of civil unrest have left their mark. Through the conflict, many women have become widows and need to nourish and financially support their families without male support. Many children were denied access to education and other services, due to devastating security conditions, dreadful violations of human rights and un-democratic policies by the brutal Taliban regime.
I am positive, however, about the future of Afghanistan. Nearly two-thirds of the population under the age of 25 voted in the first round of the presidential elections in April. This shows the enthusiasm and optimism that our youth have in the country’s future. By doing so, they expressed their desire to be heard and involved in political decisions and social developments. This is also the case for the women. According to the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan, out of 7 million people who voted in the 5 April elections, 34% of them were women.
Furthermore, we have been able to decrease the maternal mortality rate, as well as to improve the presence of girls in school. Our schools provide education to millions of children and hundreds of thousands in universities. We can surely say that the youth and women are not merely the beneficiaries of development but also the agents of Afghanistan’s transformation towards a self-reliant, stable and democratic Afghanistan.
However, intensified efforts are still needed to materialize the full potential of Afghan Youth and women. Women are still the primary victims of poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition and health constraints. The literacy rate is only 14% for women and Afghanistan’s overall poverty rate has 35% of Afghans living below the poverty line.
I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the support we have received from the international community to reach the positive developments I have spoken of today. Without the support of the International Community, Afghanistan would have been unable to achieve such drastic and positive changes. Nevertheless, a lot more still needs to be done. On behalf of the Government of Afghanistan, I would like to reiterate our strong commitment to joining efforts in addressing all remaining challenges regarding youth employment and the empowerment of women. Panel discussions, as the one taking place today are essential to raise our voices and to show commitment in tackling security, stability and development, especially those who suffer the most from poverty, conflict and war, our women and children.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.