UN supports initiative to promote gender mainstreaming in Afghanistan’s northeast
KUNDUZ - Promoting women’s access to government services and hiring more women into civil service positions were among the topics for a new outreach initiative targeting thousands of marginalized women in remote areas of two of Afghanistan’s northeastern provinces.
In collaboration with civil society groups and government officials in the provinces of Takhar and Kunduz, the Kunduz regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) put on a series of events designed to facilitate planning around gender-responsive governance and gender equality.
Each event, broadcast by television and radio to audiences estimated at 300,000 people in each province, brought together several dozen participants to discuss the current challenges Afghan women face in their communities and the best strategies for government and civil society to help advance their socio-economic standing.
In the Kunduz event, Haji Abdul Jalil Hamid, the head of the province’s civil service commission, led the debate, and in the end announced the launch of a new provincial programme designed to build support for the central government’s main gender policies.
The Takhar event’s discussion was led by civil service commissioner Hassibulla Qurbani, who outlined some of the successes the province has made in working to employ more women and to improve government services for the women the province.
Earlier this year, on 8 March, the UN marked International Women’s Day under the theme of ‘Women in the Changing World of Work,’ and made a call for women’s participation in all professions, highlighting their essential contributions in all spheres of work.
Afghanistan has made significant progress toward equal workplace participation, with the government developing measures to advance women’s participation and protect them from harm. The Afghan government has pledged to increase the presence of women in government institutions to 30 per cent by the year 2020. Currently, however, women’s participation countrywide is far below this target.
On Women’s Day, the UN welcomed the government’s launch of the economic empowerment program for women as a key step forward to opening more doors for women’s participation at all levels, and encouraged the government to continue to prioritize investment in education, healthcare and business financing for Afghan women.
“Women’s economic empowerment is a crucial precondition to effectively address poverty, inequality and violence against women,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. “While much progress has been made, many women continue to face economic and social barriers to meaningful employment as well discrimination in the workplace and in other areas of life.”
For real change, said the UN envoy, this essential agenda must be a priority. “Empowering Afghan women will allow them to share their voice and exert influence on matters of national concern, including in development, politics and most importantly peace,” he said.
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.