Afghan female leaders secure commitment from European Parliamentarians

 Media Release

27th November 2012


Afghan female leaders secure commitment from European Parliamentarians

A delegation of Afghan parliamentarians and female leaders today convinced the Afghan delegation to the European Parliament in Brussels how important it was to monitor the situation of women in the country when the international troops potentially withdraw in 2014.

 The visit of Afghan female leaders was organised by Gender Concerns International to also draw attention to the issues that women will face in the presidential elections in 2014.

During the session of the European Parliament, Fatima Aziz MP from Kunduz province said that Afghan women are very concerned that the gains that they had made in the past ten years would not be carried forward once the troops are withdrawn.

“We need to have a firm commitment that the situation in Afghanistan will be closely monitored and evaluated so that the new administration will fully embrace the participation of women in the democratic process, ” she said.

She explained that there needed to be a lot more attention throughout the country on capacity building programs for women. “They will be very useful in giving an opportunity to all women to fight for their rights as well as their participation in many different fields,” she said.

 “Women today face more challenges in different areas like education, social, professional, cultural, and governmental life,” she said. Ms Aziz pointed out that women leaders not only struggle for their women’s rights but also fight for their nation’s rights, against discrimination and inequalities.

Ms Aziza Jalis, MP from Sare Pul, expressed her concerns about the need for effective security matters to protect women in Afghanistan during this vital transition. “We need a safe place to meet” she said; “We need a solid exchange of information between associations within European parliamentarians and Afghan women parliamentarians.

 The Afghan Ambassador to Belgium Homayoun Tandar said the power relationships needed to be changed between men and women, not everything happened in Kabul, it is country wide, he said.

“We need women to change this balance. Women need to be appointed as leading heads of authority in provinces for greater gender balance. This balance has to be maintained as it is vital for the future of society.” He promised to look at a parliamentary alliance between European and Afghan parliamentarians.

Thijs Berman, chair of the Afghanistan delegation, said the visit of the Afghan women was an excellent initiative of Gender Concerns International. He said that he would organise a video conference as soon as it was possible between the European Parliament and parliamentarians in Kabul. ”Rest assured we will continue our commitment to the women in Afghanistan, with legislature and development aid in the next seven years” he said.

Afifa Azim from Afghan Women Network emphasised the need for protection of women leaders before, during, and after the presidential elections in 2014.

Sabra Bano, director of Gender Concerns International, said the visit of Afghan women leaders had highlighted the need for greater effective cooperation and coordination within Afghanistan.

She also asked for clarity on NATO’s gender policies post 2014. On 28 November, the Afghan delegation will meet Dutch parliamentarians and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On Thursday 29 November there will be a public event at the House of Europe, The Hague: “Afghanistan 2014 and Beyond, Female leadership and confronting challenges.” To attend please

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