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Empowering women key to strengthening democracy

AT-JALALABAD: Women’s social and political empowerment is a crucial component for strengthening Afghanistan’s democracy, said participants in two UN-backed events in Jalalabad, the capital of the eastern province of Nangarhar.

The events drew elders, scholars and other community leaders from across the four eastern provinces of Laghman, Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar. The discussion focused on developing strategies for increasing women’s participation in public life to ensure women’s empowerment is consistent, deliberate and long-term.

In both events, participants stressed that women’s participation at every level of the country’s social and political life is consistent with Afghanistan’s constitution, its religious values, its electoral laws, and the country’s development priorities.

Those attending the events called for efforts to build confidence among local communities ahead of the upcoming elections so that women actively participate.

A religious scholar from Nuristan, Qazi Enayatullah Maz-habyar, highlighted the important role scholars can play in these efforts. “We will do our best to support women’s empowerment and to ensure women’s participation in the elections,” he said.

The events concluded with the participants adopting a resolution to work to empower women in their communities and encourage them to play a more active role in Afghanistan’s political and developmental spheres.

The resolution will be reflected in an upcoming UN-backed radio and TV campaign broadcast by local media partners across the four eastern provinces in the coming weeks, reaching audiences estimated at two million people.

Many factors continue to undermine women’s participation in Afghanistan’s politics. While the Afghan government has taken steps to protect and improve women’s participation in public processes through legislation, the situation remains unchanged for many women in the country, including the women of the eastern provinces, where harmful traditional practices are still prevalent.

The Jalalabad event was supported by UNAMA’s regional office as part of a countrywide outreach programme aimed at creating platforms – using radio, television and social media – where Afghans can engage in dialogue and discuss critical issues affecting their communities.

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 that the UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent national and 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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