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‘Women seek vital role in all aspects’

AT-MEHTARLAM: Afghan women on Monday in a gathering asked that they want to play a vital role in all aspect of society, including to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.

At an UN-backed event on women’s participation in peace and sustainable development, community leaders and government representatives gathered in Mehtariam, the capital city of the eastern Laghman province and stressed on women’s vital role to play in all aspects of Afghan society.

UN in a statement said, some 120 women attended the daylong event, which was organized by the Jalalabad regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) along with several Women’s Affairs Departments and civil society groups from the eastern provinces of Laghman, Kunar and Nangarhar.

The event’s participants discussed the role of women in decision-making on peace processes, security reform, good governance and local-level sustainable development, the statement added.

Habiba Surabi, Deputy Chair of the High Peace Council, and Spogmay Wardak, Deputy Minister for Policy and Planning in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, encouraged women in the region to make meaningful contributions to resolving conflict.

“The purpose of our visit is to encourage women to take part in the peace process, and to let them know how to play a role in working to build peace,” said Dr Surabi, adding that such events can have a direct impact on empowering Afghan women by strengthening their unity and resolve.

“Women’s participation in any peace process is crucial, so we have to focus on better coordination to leverage the power of Afghan women in this regard,” said Shahzada Mazlumyar, Laghman’s deputy governor. “In the history of Islam, women have played a significant role in building peace.”

Following the call from several government officials to empower Afghan women and include them in peace process deliberations and other key aspects of Afghan society, participants asked the government and the international community to look to establish educational opportunities, with a specialized peace curriculum, especially for the women and girls who have not had a chance to attend school.

Participants also called for additional safety measures to be put in place for those women who raise their voices to promote peace. They emphasized that the government should take all necessary measures to ensure their human rights are protected.

The event was covered by both state-run and independent radio and TV stations in Laghman, with the broadcasts reaching an estimated 300,000 people in and around the province, including neighbouring Nangarhar and Kunar. All three eastern provinces are characterized by mostly rural communities and rugged, mountainous terrain.

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 the 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.

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