Afghan girls’ right to education spotlighted in UN-backed events

12 Jan 2017

Afghan girls’ right to education spotlighted in UN-backed events

GARDEZ - Afghan women and girls must be supported in pursuing their education, said community leaders at two UN-backed events in the provinces of Paktia and Paktika.

In Gardez, the capital of Paktia, the regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) worked with the Provincial Department of Women’s Affairs (DoWA) to put on a daylong event at the Neswan Shahri Girls High School with the goal of drawing attention not only to the importance of Afghan women acquiring an education but also to raise awareness about women’s rights and discuss strategies to eliminate violence against women.

More than one hundred students, teachers and women’s rights activists attended the event to exchange ideas about empowering Afghan women and ending violence against them.

In opening remarks, Nasrin Oriya Khel, director of Paktia’s Department of Women’s Affairs, underlined the role that students and teachers can play in the elimination of violence against women, especially by raising awareness among communities about the rights of Afghan women and girls. Ms. Khel urged participants to encourage their families to send their daughters to school.

“Most of the women are affected by harmful traditional practices in villages, and now it’s time for all of us to come together and advocate for eliminating these harmful practices,” she said. “We should start with our families and communities, taking responsibility for propagating information to empower women and eliminate violence against them.”

At the Paktia event, UNAMA’s human rights officials briefed participants about Afghanistan’s Elimination of Violence Against Women legislation, and highlighted government regulations on harassment.

A similarly formatted event took place in Sharana, at Paktika’s Khwaja Hasan Girls High School, where some 60 girls and teachers participated.

“Most of the people in remote districts, especially women, are unaware of their fundamental rights, such as the right to education, health, freedom of speech and movement, along with access to justice,” said Fereshta, one of the students participating in the event. “This kind of event should also extend to remote districts and villages.”

Paktia and Paktika, located in Afghanistan’s east and southeast, respectively, both share a border with Pakistan. They are both mostly rural provinces, with roughly 500,000 residents each.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.