The future we want is peace, equality and opportunities for all

21 Sep 2020

The future we want is peace, equality and opportunities for all

KABUL - A future free from violence and discrimination and where every person can meet their full potential is a vision shared by Afghans across the country, according to a series of discussions held this year on their hopes and ideas for a better world as part of the global UN75 initiative to create a collective vision for the future we want.

In the latest and final of a series of discussions held in several Kabul municipal districts, about two dozen young people, including women and those living with disabilities, mulled over the question of what future they want.

Participants echoed views expressed by their peers throughout the country and around the world, of “a world free from violence and discrimination,” in which all people are treated equally and afforded the same opportunities to become their best.

“I am always discriminated against because people focus on my appearance than on my talents and qualifications,” said Madina Mohammadi, one of the female participants with a disability. “Discrimination based on gender and disability restricts women from being empowered and participating in key public processes.”

Similar discussions including in Bamyan, Kandahar, Kunduz, Mazar, Maimana and Samnagan have taken place debating a range of issues from equality, access to education, peace to climate action and global cooperation.

Globally, as of 21 September 2020, over a million people from all countries and all walks of life have taken part in the UN75 dialogues. Their answers have been released today – available here -- to coincide with the UN General Assembly’s official commemoration of the 75th anniversary, held under the banner: the future we want, the UN we need.

In one of the conversations held in the northern Balkh Province, participants discussed how violent conflicts perpetuates existing inequalities while robbing individuals of their future.

“People with disabilities are victims of the conflict,” said one of the participants, Ajmal Rahmini. “Those who did not get a polio vaccine because of the war or couldn’t reach a hospital because there was none in their village, are victims of conflict as those hit by bullets,” stated Rahmini, a member of the Association of the Visually Impaired.

One of the burning issues, second only to a future of peace and equality, was access to quality education for all people. Participants argued that many of the challenges that the world and Afghanistan are facing today, including violent extremism, poverty and environmental degradation are a result of lack of universal access to education.

“Our world is facing extremism, inequality and injustice which are linked to lack of quality education,” said participant and Balkh University lecturer, Jamshid Fardi.

Participants also fervently called for urgent and collective climate action arguing that all human aspirations from eradicating poverty to addressing inequality and building peace, hinges on protecting the environment.

“We should be kind to the environment,” declared Bamyan youth activist and environmentalist, Rubaba Rezai, “whatever we do we must consider the consequences to our environment, this is our shared responsibility.”

The UN75 dialogues in Afghanistan, and around the world has sought ideas, particularly from youth and marginalized voices, to help shape a better future, collectively.

Through these conversations, the UN seeks to build a global vision of 2045 – its centenary, increase understanding of the threats to that future and support enhanced international cooperation to realize that vision.

The UN marks its 75th anniversary under the shadow of many challenges, including a global health crisis from the coronavirus pandemic, causing unprecedented socio-economic upheaval across the world. Covid-19 is a stark reminder of the pressing need for international cooperation, dialogue and action on making the world a more equitable, inclusive and peaceful place for all.

For Ghulahmad Hamedi of the Kandahar Youth Society, the world should listen to each other more.

“How can we solve global problems or know the needs of others if we don’t listen to each other?” he asks. 

Supported by UNAMA field offices in Bamyan, Central Region, Kandahar, Kunduz and Mazar, over tens of participants took part in direct discussions, while hundreds of others were reached and contributed through social media platforms.

UNAMA works with various institutions and individuals, including media stations, religious leaders, provincial councils, community leaders, youth groups and women to create platforms – using radio, social media, and television – for Afghans to engage in dialogue on pressing issues affecting their communities.