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Women’s political, economic role discussed 

AT-BAMYAN: Women’s participation in development planning and political processes is crucial for advancing Afghanistan toward a more stable and prosperous country, said panelists during a UN-backed radio programme in the central highlands province of Bamyan.

During the discussion, broadcast by local media outlet Radio Bamyan, panellists strategized on measures to make women’s empowerment consistent, deliberate and long-term. They stressed that women’s participation at every level of Afghanistan’s social and political life is consistent with Afghanistan’s constitution, electoral laws, religious values and the country’s development priorities.

“Women’s participation is important for any national process to be credible or successful,” said Sughra Attayee, head of Bamyan’s Afghan Women’s Network and one of the panellists, arguing that any national development planning must be inclusive to be effective.

Masoma Mohammadi, a professor of Islamic studies, said women and men, according to religious teachings, should work together to build a peaceful and just society. “Islam does not restrict women from participating in social and political activities,” said Mohammadi. “In fact, it encourages women to work alongside men when it comes to important matters.”

Political rights activist Fatima Rezaye also weighed in, urging political parties to lead the way in empowering women by creating more opportunities for them to participate in the country’s politics and by selecting women as candidates for the elections.

During the lively discussion, the three panellists agreed on the importance of refining systematic, long-term strategies in public information and education to raise women’s awareness, interest and subsequent participation.

Bamyan, well-known for its archaeological monuments, is also known for having a positive approach to women’s social and political participation at the provincial level. But certain unchecked harmful practices and lack of awareness about women’s rights have hindered the province’s potential to be a standout champion for women’s empowerment.

Supported by UNAMA’s Bamyan regional office, the radio discussion, broadcast to an audience estimated at 60,000 in and around the provincial capital, was supported by UNAMA as part of a series of outreach events to provide local communities with platforms to discuss critical issues affecting them.

Statistics from the Department of Women’s Affairs indicate that 17.5 per cent of all government employees in Bamyan are women, with only a handful of them occupying managerial positions. The Afghan government has pledged to increase the presence of women in government institutions to 30 per cent by the year 2020. Currently, women’s participation countrywide is far below this target.

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.

UNAMA provides ‘good offices’ and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.

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