The UN chief in Afghanistan calls for an active role of women in decision-making on the peace tables as the organization marks International Women’s Day.
The UN said in a statement that this year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change,” putting innovation at the center of efforts to build solutions that work for women and girls and achieve gender equality.
“As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us be reminded, women cannot be left behind as Afghanistan charts its way towards sustainable peace,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “Having women actively and substantively participating at the peace decision-making tables is a fundamental and key step towards them shaping gender-responsive laws and policies for the benefit of all Afghans.”
“As Afghanistan focuses its attention on a sustainable peace process, the Afghan people have voiced concerns regarding the preservation of hard-won human rights gains, particularly the principles of equality and non-discrimination,” said Yamamoto. “These principles are at the very core of this year’s theme of finding innovative ways that remove barriers and accelerate progress toward gender equality.”
According to the UN, Afghan women are still over-represented in the informal economy. They have limited access to social protection, public services and infrastructure that could increase their productivity, financial independence and security. Afghan women also shoulder the responsibility of most household tasks and take care of young and aged family members.
“Innovations that respond to the priorities of women can be instrumental in accelerating gender equality,” said Aleta Miller, the UN Women Country Representative in Afghanistan.
The UN statement says that Afghanistan has made important advances in gender equality and the empowerment of women, but much work remains to be done.
A gender-responsive social protection system is important if it is to benefit all citizens, the statement adds.
Equitable access to public services – such as education, health and justice – is vital to the fulfillment of women’s human rights, the statement says.
According to the statement, investment in sustainable infrastructure and agricultural practices that respond to the devastating effects of climate change in Afghanistan, in a gender-responsive way, is equally necessary.
International Women’s Day is observed every year on 8 March to rally and build support for women’s rights and participation in every sphere of life.