President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani spoke at the 4thAfghan Women Symposium titled “Afghan Women, messengers of peace” Presidential Palace, Monday.
The first speaker of the symposium was Afghan minister of foreign affairs Salahuddin Rabbani. He said that the main theme of the symposium, which is being held today following Washington, Oslo and Kabul symposiums, resides in empowerment of women and exchange of international experiences.
He said that the principal goal of the symposium is to facilitate engagement of Afghan women in different processes, therefore their role in the peace-building has been carefully considered.
Minister Rabbani said, “This symposium is a good opportunity where different topics can be discussed such as how women can play a role in putting an end to the ongoing war and the violence resulting from it and how they can be engaged in establishing enduring peace in the country.”
He added, “Women’s engagement in economic, political, cultural and social development of the developed countries is robust and perceptible, but unfortunately in the past four decades Afghan women have been segregated compared to men. Afghan women have been unprecedentedly deprived and they are the real victims of the social miseries, hence we are particularly focused on ensuring peace and enduring security.
He elaborated, “, The Afghan Government has taken significant measures in order to bring women back into the mainstream of social decision-making process such as women’s economic empowerment, efforts to eliminate violence, strengthening women’s engagement in political affairs and provision of educational opportunities to girls.”
He said, “During the last 17 years, the Afghan Government has taken actions to empower women and protect their rights so that they will be able to contribute toward reconstruction of national infrastructure through application of their human capital.”
Thanking the organizers of the symposium, President Ghani said, “The significance of this consensus lies in the fact that peace and tranquility is the key demand of the people and an essential need of Afghanistan.”
President Ghani pointed to the major step recently taken for preserving peace in the country and said, “In the convention organized on occasion of peace with Hezb-I Islami, I said that intent and analysis, judgment and observance of law are the pre-conditions for peace.”
He added, “If peace is not achieved in line with the law, it won’t yield in any other result but failure.”
The President said, “Our Constitution is an important document and covenant in which our national unity, national and Islamic identity and the fundamental rights of our people are enshrined. Doubtlessly, a real peace can be pursued and maintained when Afghan men and women enjoy their fundamental rights without their rights being encroached”
He expressed, “Fortunately, we are following the religion where humans are not divided based on gender, but men and women are equal and endowed with equal prestige and status according to human dignity.”
He said, “We study in our Islamic history that Muslim women were actively engaged in political, cultural, economic and social spheres by virtue of the rights given to them in Islam.”
President Ghani said, “We study in the history of Afghanistan that when women were provided with education and employment opportunities, prominent personalities like Gauhar Shad Begam and Nazo Ana emerged.”
He said, “The important reason behind the success and progress which the Afghan women have made during the past 15 years is the opportunity provided to them by the Constitution.”
He added, “Prolongation of war and insecurity is the significant reason behind gender-based inequality. The number of uneducated Afghan women to whom educational opportunities are denied is three times the number of uneducated Afghan men and the chief reason is the war imposed on us in which we are engaged.”
The President said, “If there had not been war and violence, thousands of our girls would be doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers and social actors, unlike their present conditions marked by deprivation, sorrow and worries.”
He said, “Women are the major victims of the ongoing war. They are not the ones responsible for the war, but they are the martyrs, wounded and refugees in this war.”
He added, “Discussions and measures of women centered on peace seem very natural and indispensable, for women are intrinsically and naturally champions and advocates of peace.”
The President said, “Organization of this symposium titled “Afghan Women, messengers of peace” truly demonstrates our call for observance of Islamic instructions and nurturing national traditions.”
He said, “My suggestion is this that Afghan women and organizers of this symposium should put forward their specific recommendations on peace to the Afghan Government and people.”
The President said that despite the obstacles and antagonism of those supporting the war; Afghan women have made gratifying progress in all walks of life.
He said, “Now they ‘Afghan women’ have a clear stand and voice of their own. Their capacity is well-built and their experience is glorious. They excel in their discussions. The President added that it is not only the scourge of the imposed war to which Afghan women are opposed but also their position in other social evils like addiction is very praise-worthy.
Later, the EEAS Head of Division-Asia Ms. Paola Pampaloni spoke in the Symposium. She commended the promises made by the First Lady for empowering Afghan women.
She said that women and peace bear close affinity and that the political and economic engagement of women has proven very useful. They play a good role in peace process.
She said, “In this symposium, we will hear the ideas of Afghan women in the center and provinces on how they can be peace agents in order to contribute toward national development.”
Kabul-based Norwegian Ambassador Mari Skåre said that supporting peace and dialogues is among the key priorities.
She said, “Women’s engagement in peace dialogues should be considered. Engaging women in peace establishing process has proven effective and logical. We can pursue sustainable peace only when women are engaged in it.”
She said, “Engagement of women in peace dialogues can ensure sustainability of peace agreement because women have eloquence and policies. The role of women should be identified as messengers of peace to play a useful role in peace dialogues.
Minister of women affairs Dilbar Nazari said, “Peace counts as the basic human needs in the absence of which sustainable development can’t be attained.”
She said, “Ministry of Women Affairs is in the last stages of formulating policy of maintaining peace which will facilitate wider participation of women in the peace process.”
She said, “The most important demand of the Afghan women is to establish peace and security in the country. She asked the political leaders, influential figures, religious scholars and media to make heartfelt efforts in initiating unified vision, strengthening national unity and preserving national stability.”
Governor of Helmand Hayatullah Hayat said, “Peace is our collective demand and without it ‘peace’ we will confront problems and challenges, therefore we all are compelled to work together for pursuance of peace.”
He said, “Women have played a central role in sensitive moments in different periods of history and because of their engagement and consultations, problems have been addressed.”
Describing women as the stratum most vulnerable to war, he said, “Exactly as women like Malalai the heroine of Maiwand battle can encourage the youth to fight the holy war or Feroza and Zahra who are currently leading a group of twenty to fight the enemies in Sangin and Marja districts of Helmand, doubtlessly they ‘women’ can prevent the youth from joining fighting groups.”
The governor emphasized on girls’ education and said, “Women’s engagement in peace process should be facilitated through an academic mechanism embodying our cultural and social values.
Indonesia’s Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Yohana Susana Yembise said that Afghan-Indonesian relations have been strengthened following President Ghani’s visit to Indonesia.
She provided a detailed briefing about experiences of Indonesian women to combat sexual violence. The briefing also elaborated on needs of Indonesian women which were not taken into account. She said that women’s role in peace- building is crucial and valuable.