Celebrating women leaders - International Women’s Day

8 Mar 2021

Celebrating women leaders - International Women’s Day

KABUL - On International Women’s Day, the UN family in Afghanistan celebrates the achievements of so many women who are determined to make the country a better place for all Afghans.

The global theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” is highly topical. In Afghanistan, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on women and girls. Equally, Afghanistan’s recovery from the crisis presents an opportunity to build a more just and inclusive society – with women at the forefront.

In Afghanistan, 2021 also brings a historic opportunity for a lasting peace that will benefit all Afghans. Women must play a leading role in decision-making at all levels of the peace process. But to do so they need support from all sectors of society, from government, and from the international community. This is also an opportunity to showcase the strengths of Afghanistan’s women leaders in all their diversity. When today’s women leaders are respected and supported, more girls will be encouraged to follow their path.

“The peace process has brought to the fore strong Afghan women leaders, who have negotiated on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and rallied support in their communities for a peaceful solution to the conflict. Empowering these women, and expanding women’s participation, will be critical to ensure a just and sustainable peace that protects the rights of all Afghans,” said Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, as in many countries around the world, women stand at the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis: as healthcare workers, caregivers, innovators, and community organizers. Today, we stand with these women and celebrate their achievements. To take just one example, a women’s rights activist from one province described her group’s work engaging with local authorities on the COVID-19 response, resulting in the opening of COVID-19 testing laboratory in the province, as well as more public awareness and better support for the poorest families.

“Time and again, Afghan women have proven that their skills, knowledge and fierce determination have pushed their country towards the peaceful and prosperous future that Afghans yearn for. Today, Afghanistan stands before an opportunity unlike any other in the country’s history. Afghanistan can build back a better, stronger country for every woman, girl, man and boy. To do so, women must be at the front and centre of decision-making, to achieve a peace that lasts, for a bright future for all Afghans,” said Aleta Miller, UN Women Representative in Afghanistan.

Facing significant social barriers, the women of Afghanistan dare to be leaders. As Kunduz activist, Marzia Rustami, put it, “I used to hear from my childhood – good and religious women and girls should stay at home or work as teachers. I have been both, good and religious, and I was able to help scores of women by not staying at home.” The UN salutes the immense courage of these women, and their determination to make their country a better place.

Afghanistan will be more resilient in the face of any crisis when women work side by side with men in all roles, including at the highest levels of decision-making. The United Nations will continue to support all efforts towards gender equality and all opportunities for women to claim their rightful place in positions of leadership.

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.