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International Women’s Day ; Radios series discusses women’s participation in public life

AT News Report

KUNDUZ: Empowering women to participate in public life and policy-making contributes to addressing inequalities and promotes diversity and inclusion, say panelists at UN-backed radio program in the country’s northeast.

Speaking during a new series of radio roundtables in Kunduz and Takhar provinces ahead of International Women’s Day, which falls on 8 March, women’s rights activists and provincial officials discussed why it matters to have more women in decision-making positions and at decision-making tables. They stressed that the empowerment of women begins with participation and having a say in public policy decisions that have an impact on their lives and that of their families.

One of the panelists, Badal Bi Sharifi, an official from the Kunduz Department of Women’s Affairs said that local women have been actively engaging in public affairs, thanks, in part, to gender awareness and capacity building initiatives over the years. “More and more women are active in politics, in the economy and in the social life of their communities,” observed Sharifi.

Nonetheless, many factors continue to undermine women’s participation in civic activities and public life. Through policies such as the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan, the Afghan Government has taken steps to boost women’s participation in civic activities and public life. But gender inequality is still pervasive and a key challenge.

Women’s rights activist, Habiba Gulustani, believes that much remains to be done to address structural barriers such as violence, negative stereotypes and harmful traditional practices that continue to hinder women’s involvement in public life and decision-making processes. In rural areas, even fewer women participate or benefit from public policies; most of them remain marginalized and left behind.

For his part, university lecturer, Enayatulla Mashal, from Takhar province drew attention to the everyday contribution of Afghan women in averting local disputes, improving communities and shaping the country at large. “When we look back at the history of our country, we can’t forget women’s monumental contribution to various transformations that took place,” said Mashal. He urged listeners to preserve Afghanistan’s achievements in the fundamental rights of women in recent years.

In their closing remarks, panelists affirmed women’s participation at every level of public life and decision-making processes as being consistent with Afghanistan’s Constitution, religious values and the country’s development priorities. They also urged public institutions to lead the way by adopting, implementing and enforcing deliberate and long-term policies aimed at empowering women.

The UN is committed to supporting the Afghan Government’s efforts and is working with a variety of institutions and actors to promote gender equality and non-discrimination, and support local programmes aimed at expanding opportunities for women.

This year, International Women’s Day will be observed under the theme ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’ aimed at putting innovation at the centre of efforts to build solutions that work for women and girls and accelerates gender equality.

The radio roundtables organized by UNAMA regional office in Kunduz and aired by media partners, Radio Kunduz and Radio Raihan, reached an estimated audience of 600,000 people in Kunduz and Takhar provincial capitals and surrounding districts.

UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.

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