The European Parliament is holding a two-day conference and a series of events to discuss the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan since the political change in the country.
The conference kicked off on Monday and will end on Wednesday. A number of prominent Afghan women, EU parliamentarians and representatives from international organizations have attended the event.
In Tuesday’s conference, the participants called for the international community’s support for the women and girls in Afghanistan.
EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola, speaking at the conference said: “The European Union has defined respect on human rights, in particular women’s rights, the rule of law and freedom of the media as key conditions for engagement with the current Afghan authorities.”
Angelina Jolie, an actress and a special envoy for UNHCR, said the Afghan women have suffered a lot in the past four decades, but they never lost hope for their country. She called on the Islamic Emirate to reopen schools for girls. “I call on the de facto authorities in Afghanistan, to reopen all schools. To enable the girls to sit the exams that they missed last year. To release Tamana Paryani and Parwana Ibrahimkhil, and the other women held in detention. And to let women participate fully and freely in work and politics and society.”
Sima Samar, the former chairperson of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said Afghanistan is the collective failure of the international community, the Afghan government and the Afghan people. She warned the international community against abandoning Afghanistan.
She said Afghan women make up half of the population and they must have all their rights and freedoms as human beings. “Whether they like it or not, women are half of the population in Afghanistan. They must have all the rights and freedom as human beings. Denial of the fact is not changing the reality that half of the human forces are women.”
Samar went said the problem in Afghanistan is chronic and requires a long-term multi-dimensional strategy based on human rights values.
Amina Mohammad, Deputy Secretary General of the UN, said Afghan women and girls made significant progress in the past two decades in accessing their rights. She said the bad humanitarian situation has also a very bad affect on the Afghan women and girls. “Today, sadly the same women and girls have had their hope cruelly taken away from them once more. Roll-backs on rights to employment, education, freedom of movement and enjoyment of dignity and freedom from violence have been exacerbated by an economic situation,” she said.
According to Mohammad, women’s participation in the society is necessary for further stability in the country. “Without full participation in public life, women’s access to essential services will be even further curtailed. A country cannot become more stable when half of its population is excluded from public life and the economy.”
Mohammad said the UN is pushing for efforts to make sure the voices of Afghan women are heard, and she called on the international community to act as one in this respect.
Zarifa Ghafari, the former mayor of Maidan Shahr in Maidan Wardak province, said over the past two decades the Afghan government used women’s rights to gain funds. She also blamed the international community for abandoning the people of Afghanistan under the name of peace. “We saw how amazingly women rights was just being used as a title or a slogan to win the votes, money, aid or anything else by our government.”
The Islamic Emirate, meanwhile, says it is committed to respecting women’s rights.