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Statement of H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani at a panel discussion organized by the Women’s Federation for World Peace International and the Global Women’s Peace Network on “Girls’ Education and their Socio-Economic Integration”

Excellences’, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

Good morning, everyone, and thank you very much for joining us to discuss one of the main issues for all of us, in particular for my country Afghanistan: investing in girls’ education.

As we have just celebrated Nowruz, let me take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and prosperous 1394 of the solar calendar.

Thank you, Dr. Maria Riehl and Dr. Lan Young Moon for your presentations. I congratulate Dr. Moon for the progress achieved in Korea so far. Afghanistan can learn from your experiences as a post-conflict country. And thank you, Ms. Handschin, for your warm welcome. Let me express my gratitude to the Women’s Federation for World Peace International and the Global Women’s Peace Network for organizing today’s even which we are happy to sponsor. I am personally happy to be a part of today’s discussion on the situation of girls, a matter that is very dear to me.

My country Afghanistan has experienced a rich history of women’s movements and the participation of women in social, economic and political affairs in the country. However, Afghanistan greatly suffered because of decades of wars and conflict, and women have been the primary victims. During the time of the Taliban in particular, women and girls were deprived of the very basic elements of human rights and experienced a gender genocide due to the Taliban’s wrongful policies.

Afghanistan, after long years of conflict and suffering, started its journey of transition to a stable and democratic future back in 2001. This year marks the first of Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation. An important feature of this decade is its focus on consolidating our decade’s achievements in improving the lives of women and girls across the country.

Gender equality, which has been enshrined in the new constitution of Afghanistan, plays a key role in our National Development Strategy and in the newly established national institutions, in particular the Ministry of Women’s Affairs which holds the government’s leading role in the empowerment of women. Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission and the Prosecution Office on Elimination of Violence against Women and Family Case Units at Police Stations are all engaged to protect the rights of girls and women, and every ministry has a gender and human rights department.

We are aware of the fact that the situation of girls in many parts of Afghanistan is not yet adequate and much remains to be done to tackle challenges; however, the National Unity Government of Afghanistan is committed to solving this. And I would like to assure you that the women of Afghanistan who are taking an active role in the social, economic, political and security areas as ministers, MPs, judges, prosecutors, officers and human rights activists will remain actively involved in the ongoing peace process in the country.

It is our strong belief that women should equally participate in the development of our country as their economic empowerment is essential for Afghanistan’s prosperity and growth. As we have witnessed in many other post-conflict countries, economic empowerment to a certain degree precedes social empowerment. In order to enable sustained women’s income generation, we need to take into consideration certain social dynamics and existing customary laws.

Our women can act as agents of change, for the betterment of our families, communities and the nation as a whole. We need to provide conducive governance and justice systems to enable a socio-economic empowerment approach that tackles practices and perceptions that block women’s active participation.

There is also a role for our international partners to invest in a gender-informed manner. Let me suggest here small-scale model projects for women in a number of provinces that could serve as template for multiplication.

Since 2009, over 12 percent of the Afghan Government’s total budget has been allocated towards education. In 2010 the Ministry of Education set forth the National Strategic Education Plan (NSEP) which stipulates policies and objectives of the education system in Afghanistan to be achieved by 2014. This plan reflected the ambitions of the Afghan people and students.

By 2014, the NSEP had had great success, significantly improving the lives of students across the country. While less than 1 million children—nearly all boys—were enrolled in schools, including religious madrassas in 2001, by the end of 2014 over 10 million children were enrolled, with 39% of them being girls. Estimates by the Afghan Ministry of Education state that more than 132,000 girls will graduate with general education in 2015, and they project that that number will be nearly 204,000 by 2020. The NSEP has now entered its third stage, for the years 2015 – 2020 in order to work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All Objectives.

Afghanistan is committed to ensuring that all its children will be able to participate in and complete primary school by 2020, promoting gender equality, ensuring that all girls have access to a complete and free compulsory education, and eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary schools by focusing on ensuring that girls have full and equal access to a good quality education.

Article 44 of Afghanistan’s constitution states that providing access to education for girls is one of the Ministry of Education’s key priorities. The Ministry is committed to enrolling all girls in school by 2020 by following a comprehensive program which includes conducting public awareness programs which engage influential local and religious persons, improving awareness of the importance of girls’ education in Islam, recruiting and training more qualified female teachers, and equipping girls’ schools with appropriate facilities.

Investing in the economic potential of girls by increasing their access to education is one of the most important ways to achieve sustainable development within a country. Quality education empowers young women to shape their futures and allows them to become leaders and to work for social progress. Educating young women means educating future mothers and training future teachers and strong members of civil society, who will in turn help to keep up this sustainable cycle of education by continuing to promote the importance of education in the future.

By improving the education of girls, we are making great strides in improving their socio-economic prospects for the future. Helping women to take on strong roles in the labor force improves their own lives, and improves the state of Afghanistan. Girls have an important role to play in helping to make positive changes in Afghanistan and to move the country forward into the Decade of Transformation, and these changes can only be achieved if we work to improve their lives from the very start.

Thanks to the commitment and sacrifices of the Afghan people, in particular women, supported by our friends and partners in the international community, for the last 12 years Afghanistan has been transformed into a new place. And it is a better place for all Afghans, in particular women and girls. We are committed to building up on the achievements we have made so far and addressing all the remaining challenges that the Afghan people, in particular women and girls, are facing, and we’d like to call on our partners to continue their support for Afghanistan and for the success of our Decade of Transformation. We have many shared values which are vitally and equally important for all of us. We in Afghanistan believe that there is no guarantee that we will reach our goals for the Decade of Transformation without the active participation of girls, who make up more than 50% of the younger generation.Our women are the best hope for peace, stability and development in our country.

Thank you.

On the occasion of Nowruz

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Welcoming statement by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani on the occasion of Nowruz at the United Nations Office in Vienna

Excellences’,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Welcome, everyone. I have the honor to speak on behalf of my dear colleagues from the participating and organizing Missions of this event present here today. In 2015, for the second time ever, we come together to celebrate Nowruz, the spring Festival; to ring in the New Year and to celebrate peace, harmony, respect and love for all of our families, friends and the nature surrounding us. I would like to thank all of the Ambassadors and colleagues who made this event possible and the Vienna International Centre for being the gracious host of such an important event. It is a pleasure to see friends from all cultures and from all over the globe joining us today for the official ceremony marking the International Day of Nowruz.

The United Nations General Assembly, by adopting a resolution on March 10, 2010, recognized the 21st of March as the International Day of Nowruz, and on that day the Secretary General stated at the UNGA that: “Nowruz reminds us of the values and aspirations we all share for peace through tolerance, respect and mutual understanding.” I warmly welcome you to our celebration and on behalf of all dear ambassadors sponsoring today’s event I extend our best wishes to all of you on this special occasion.

Nowruz is a complex tapestry, reminding us of the most important things in life. People from all countries here today can draw on and gain something from the universal message of Nowruz: To be good to each other and to celebrate the gifts life has given us, with our family, friends, loved ones and communities. As with every spring, we are reminded of the potential for change and rebirth, and we realize that all things in the world can be renewed, that we all have a better chance and a new start to do better and to celebrate peace and harmony.

Nowruz is also the time of year when we reflect on our hopes for the year ahead. Here today, those of us who celebrate Nowruz come from different countries, speak different languages, and are geographically separated, but our culture and history remains a strong connecting bridge among us. This personal connection that we have to the celebration is the secret of its longevity. Over 300 million throughout the world celebrate this day in different forms, however, we all call it Nowruz.

The historical heritage of Nowruz, and the philosophies which are built around it, have not only united us in the past, but also present a great opportunity to strengthen our existing co-operation, to build confidence and to expand partnerships that can help us to seize the rich potential of our region and beyond, for our future generations. It creates a cross-cultural linkage through which we can advocate for shared human values.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The cultural heritage of Nowruz, which we share, is treasured by all of us here, as a uniting foundation of our societies. Let’s all welcome spring together, and decide to carry the spirit of Nowruz, not just for the holiday, but with us for the rest of the year.

Nowruz Mubarak to all of you.

 

H.E. Ambassador Erfani opens Nowruz celebrations at the United Nations

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Vienna, 18.03.2015

Today, H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani opened celebrations on the occasion of Nowruz at the Rotunda of the United Nations. For the second time only – Nowruz was celebrated at the UN at Vienna last year for the first time – a number of Permanent Missions teamed up to host this event at the Vienna International Centre. Afghanistan was joined by colleagues from Azerbaijan, Iran I.R., Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.

Martin Nesirky, Director of the UN Information Service, moderated the event and introduced Ambassador Ayoob Erfani, as chair of the organizing committee, who first welcomed the large audience, among them many Permanent Representatives, high-ranking UN officials including the heads of the Vienna-based UN organizations, and friends from local communities. Mr. Ambassador, on behalf of the Nowruz countries, then delivered opening remarks explaining the historic background and significance of Nowruz in our region and beyond, in the spirit of solidarity, unity and regional cooperation. He thanked everyone who helped to make this event possible, the UN for providing premises, and all guests for coming. He concluded his remarks by stating: “The cultural heritage of Nowruz, which we share, is treasured by all of us here, as a uniting foundation of our societies. Let’s all welcome spring together and carry the spirit of Nowruz, not just for the holiday, but with us for the rest of the year – Nowruzetan Mubarak!

Mr. Dennis Thatchaichawalit, Deputy Director-General of the UN Office at Vienna, in his address highlighted the fact that as of 2009 Nowruz is on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list and, as of 2010, following a decision by the United Nations General Assembly, is recognized as “International Nowruz Day”.

Following performances from artists from Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Turkey, the buffet was opened with country-specific specialties offered by the nine hosting countries, which also had artefacts, jewelry and costumes on display at their stalls.

Nowruz marks the first day of spring or Equinox and the beginning of the year in the Solar Hijri calendar. More than 300 million people, in Central Asia, the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans observe this important day. On March 21, the New Year 1394 starts.

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On the occasion of International Women’s Day the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan co-organized a podium discussion entitled “Afghanistan: from the Taliban to Democracy?”

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Vienna, 09.03.2015

On Monday, 9 March, the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan and the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation organized a podium discussion at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna entitled “Afghanistan: from the Taliban to Democracy?” with a distinguished panel from Afghanistan. Among the panelists was Ms. Mahbouba Seraj, a prominent Afghan women’s rights activist and journalist, who spoke on the status of women in Afghanistan. H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani, who opened the panel, briefed a huge number of participants on the history of women’s rights in Afghan society, the effect of three decades of conflict on women’s rights, the last decade of achievements, the remaining challenges and the commitment of the National Unity Government of Afghanistan towards the further empowerment of women for the success of the country’s Decade of Transformation. Going on to emphasize the changes made over the last thirteen years, Ambassador Erfani stated, “We must raise awareness about the key role women should play in making peace and rebuilding our economy. Women can be drivers of peace.” The Ambassador pointed out that women now play stronger roles in the media and Afghan National Security Forces, and that with gender equality stipulated in the 2004 Constitution, 24 percent of parliamentary seats are reserved for women and four million girls are now enrolled in school.

In his closing remarks, Ambassador Erfani thanked his panelists for their presentations and the audience for their active participation, as well as the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation for its interest in Afghanistan. The Ambassador assured the audience that the Government intends to continue working to empower the women of Afghanistan: “As our women grow in confidence, so Afghanistan grows in confidence. Our women are the best hope for peace, stability and development in our country.”

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Message on the Occasion of the 2015 International Women’s Day

The Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna congratulates all women on the occasion of the 2015 International Women’s Day.

In Afghanistan, this is a day to celebrate what has been achieved since the collapse of the brutal regime of the Taliban thirteen years ago, but it is also a day for mature and sober reflection. Women always suffer the most during wars and post-conflict periods. Work to improve the situation of women in Afghanistan is in progress, but we accept there is much more to do. The newly formed National Unity Government of Afghanistan pledges to fully implement gender equality in the country, as warranted by our Constitution, and to end gender-based violence. The challenges are real and changes must be profound. And there will be no backing down. Women already play important roles in Afghanistan’s media, civil society and law-making, with 24% of parliamentary seats reserved for women. Furthermore, more than 2.5 million girls are enrolled in our schools. The Government is dedicated to making gender equality an integral part in all our policies. 2015 also marks the 20th anniversary of the UN Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, an urgent reminder to ensure effective female political participation and to advance empowerment of women for the post-2015 development agenda.

In our actions to empower the women of Afghanistan, we are sustained by the knowledge that a new generation of Afghan women knows that in claiming their equal rights, they are acting within a modern world where those ideals are becoming imperative. With the beginning of Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation 2015-2024, we have entered a new era, and we are committed to a new agenda, reshaping our country and our status in the region and in the world. In order to equip Afghanistan for its future, we must realize full and equal participation of our women in all spheres of society. As our women grow in confidence, so Afghanistan grows in confidence. Our women are the best hope for peace, stability and development in our Country.

Afghanistan reiterates its support for the peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue

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Vienna, 04.03.2015

Today, Ambassador Erfani addressed the meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), taking place in Vienna from 2-6 March, 2015, where he praised the Director General of the IAEA, H.E. Yukiya Amano for his continued efforts and welcomed the progress mentioned in the report on the “Implementation of the NPT safeguards agreement and relevant provisions of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

Ambassador Erfani also stated that Afghanistan remains convinced that all outstanding issues related to Iran’s nuclear programme can be solved in the foreseen timeframe and that a sustainable compromise can be reached, with restored international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.

The Ambassador expressed Afghanistan’s “strong support for the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free-zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East, as well as all other steps aimed at elimination of all weapons of mass destruction and global nuclear disarmament.” He also stated that “we welcome the continued cooperation between the Agency and the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the latest meeting that took place between Director General Amano and authorities of the IR of Iran, where it was agreed to continue dialogue with a view to resolving all outstanding issues related to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

The Ambassador concluded his remarks by welcoming the application of Turkmenistan for membership of the IAEA: “We look forward to welcoming our sisters and brothers from Turkmenistan to the IAEA family, and we will closely cooperate with Turkmenistan in the spirit of our excellent neighborly relations,” he said.

The Board of Governors is composed of 35 of the 163 members of the IAEA and generally meets five times per year to make recommendations to the IAEA General Conference. Afghanistan was a founding member of the IAEA in 1957.

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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani to the IAEA Board of Governors on Agenda Item 6 (d): “Implementation of the NPT safeguards agreement and relevant provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran”

Madam Chairperson,

Let me start by thanking the Director General, Mr. Yukiya Amano, for his report under the agenda item 6 (d) “Implementation of the NPT safeguards agreement and relevant provisions of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran”, as contained in document GOV/2015/15.

We fully associate ourselves with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement delivered by the distinguished Ambassador and Resident Representative of the IR of Iran but wish to make the following remarks in our national capacity:

We welcome the continued cooperation between the Agency and our brotherly nation the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the latest meeting that took place between Director General Amano and authorities of the IR of Iran, where it was agreed to continue dialogue with a view to resolving all outstanding issues related to Iran’s nuclear programme.

Afghanistan underscores the inalienable right of all states for access and use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, reiterates its traditional position and expresses its strong support for the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free-zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East, as well as all other steps aimed at elimination of all weapons of mass destruction and global nuclear disarmament.

Afghanistan supports the Agency’s continued efforts to undertake monitoring and verification of the Joint Statement on the Framework for Cooperation and of the Joint Plan of Action, and commends all parties involved in the ongoing negotiation process; we are positive that with continued political and diplomatic means from all sides a sustainable compromise can be reached.

Afghanistan welcomes the achieved progress and remains hopeful that all outstanding issues, past and present, can be solved in the foreseen timeframe, which is essential to fully restore international confidence toward the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. We encourage all IAEA Member States to contribute positively to diplomacy and dialogue on this and all other matters important for all of us.

Let me also take this opportunity to welcome the application of Turkmenistan for membership of the IAEA. We look forward to welcome our sisters and brothers from Turkmenistan to the IAEA family, and we will closely cooperate with Turkmenistan in the spirit of our excellent neighborly relations.

Thank you, Madam Chairperson

Afghans Lost in Tragic Avalanche

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The Embassy and Permanent Mission of Afghanistan in Vienna wishes to express its profound sorrow and heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of the over 300 Afghans lost or injured in the avalanches triggered by severe blizzards in several of Afghanistan’s provinces, among them Panjshir, Badakhshan, Baghlan and Faryab.

In a meeting of the Council of Ministers headed by Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah this morning, all government agencies have been instructed to redouble their efforts to help those affected in order to overcome the crisis. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, in a televised address, stated that there is a need for massive assistance, announced the opening of an international relief fund, and announced three days of national mourning.

Our hearts go out to all those who been affected by this natural catastrophe. May God rest the souls of those lost in peace and give strength to their family and friends to bear this huge loss.

.إنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون

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H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani and the Permanent Mission are awarded medals by Parliamentary Delegation

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Vienna, 23.02.2015

From 18-20 February a parliamentary delegation comprised of members of the Meshrano Jirga, headed by H.E. Mohammad Alam Izidyar, and of the Wolesi Jirga, headed by H.E. Erfanullah Erfan, visited Vienna and actively participated in the 14th Winter Meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, UN sessions, bilateral meetings, and media interviews. During separate ceremonies at the end of the meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly, H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani was awarded two medals of the Meshrano Jirga and the Wolesi Jirga by the heads of both houses in recognition of his achievements and contributions to the engagement of Afghanistan with the international community, as well as his pursuance of active diplomacy on behalf of the country. The Wolesi Jirga also gave an award to the Permanent Mission and team for their teamwork in representing Afghanistan to the international community in Vienna and for facilitating the participation of the Afghan delegation in meetings and conferences.

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