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“Afghan women would not go back,” Minister Safi

Hasina Safi

By: The Kabul Times

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women reviewed the third periodic report of Afghanistan on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in Geneva on February 18. The Committee Experts urged Afghanistan to build on the progress and achievements in gender equality, adding that hard-earned gains must not be lost in the future peace agreement.
Commending the adoption of the second national action plan on Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security in 2019, the Experts noted that women’s participation in the peace process so far had been negligible.  Afghanistan should ensure that the rights of women were preserved in the future peace agreement.
The Experts discussed, among other issues, child marriage, “honor killings” and other forms of violence against women.  The “systematic impunity” for perpetrators of gender-based violence, especially influential persons, sent a very bad signal to the whole society that crimes against women were tolerated, they said. 
Leading the Afghan delegation, Hasina Safi, Acting Minister of Information and Culture of Afghanistan, introducing the report, said that since 2015, there were more women on the General Assembly of the High Peace Council.  “The first consultation on peace had been held with women in the provinces.  Women had participated in the peace talks with the Taliban in 2015 and again in 2018. 
Women participated in the peace talks to ensure that the gains achieved to date were not lost.”
The acting Minister of Information and Culture of Afghanistan, recalled that Afghanistan had ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women without any reservations. 
Afghan women would not go back, stressed the Minister, and expressed appreciation for the women of the world helping the women of Afghanistan. 
‘While progress had been made in the meaningful participation of women, challenges remained, especially in areas outside of the capital. 
That was why it was important to raise awareness in provinces and villages.  Over the past five years, women had become a part of the system of governance.  For the first time, women had been nominated to the High Council of the Supreme Court, to Afghanistan’s missions to the United Nations, to the posts of deputy ministers of interior and of defense, and to posts of deputy governors in the provinces.” According Minister Safi, since 2015, the number of women on the General Assembly of the High Peace Council had increased and consultations with women in the provinces had been held for the first time, during which women had been asked what peace meant for them. 
Afghanistan had developed two national action plans for the implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security and it was currently preparing a report on the second action plan to 2020.”
Women participated in the peace process to ensure that the gains achieved to date were not lost. 
They had been given an equal opportunity to participate in the discussions, stressed the Acting Minister, while civil society organizations, such as the Afghan Women Network, had coordinated the voices of women. 
“The Ministry of Peace was facilitating the participation of women in the peace process and aimed to clearly define their role in all its steps, from pre-negotiation, the negotiation itself and the implementation of the future peace agreement, which would be the most difficult step.”
As for the national machinery for the women of Afghanistan, Minister Safi stressed the policy advances made over past years, which included the law on the elimination of violence against women, the setting up of a high-level commission for the elimination of violence against women, and the efforts to reactivate the dormant gender department of the Independent Civil Service Commission. 
“The Committee of Laws in the Ministry of Justice had a deadline for the completion of the draft family law by 2021.”
On the participation of women in political and public life, the Acting Minister stressed the intention to strengthen the quality of their participation.  There was a special facility to guide and encourage women to get their identity cards. 
The ongoing revision of the curriculum aimed to ensure the integration of peace and gender from an early age.  “We want peace and mutual respect of women and men from childhood,” the Acting Minister stressed.
“The Government listened to the people, it held regular consultations and had extended its reach into all 34 provinces, where women actively participated. 
Polygamy was not encouraged in laws.”
In conclusion, Minister Safi called for support for the Government of Afghanistan in the implementation of all the laws that had been developed for the Afghan women. 
“It was easy to put women as ministers or deputy ministers, but they had to be an active tool of system development, which was the only tangible indicator of sustainable development. 
The women of Afghanistan needed to define the issues by themselves and the international community should support the Government to act on those recommendations.” Meanwhile, Hilary Gbedemah, Committee Chairperson, in her concluding remarks, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue and commended the good will of Afghanistan to align its practices with international standards.
The delegation of Afghanistan consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Information and Culture, Ministry of Women Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Parliament of Afghanistan, Supreme Court and the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will issue the concluding observations on the report of Afghanistan at the end of its seventy-fifth session on 28 February. 

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The Kabul Times.