Speech/statement | Date: 2018-03-15 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
By Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide (New York, 15 March)
Address by Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms Ine Eriksen Søreide at a side-event on Afghanistan, CSW, in New York.
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I want to thank the Government of Afghanistan, and particularly Minister of Women's Affairs Nazari, and Ambassador Saikal, for the opportunity to address you today.
I have had the pleasure of visiting Afghanistan several times in my previous capacities as chair of foreign and defence committee and Minister of Defence.
I am glad to co-host this side event with UN Women, one of our main partners for women's rights and gender equality.
Education is critical for women's empowerment, and a girl in a village has the same right to education as a girl in Kabul, in Oslo or here in New York.
Since 2001 Afghanistan has made important progress. More girls and women now have access to education. 39% of students in Afghanistan are women.
But much more needs to be done to secure their right to education and remove the many obstacles they still meet.
Corruption in the education sector must be addressed.
Practical steps must be taken to encourage girls' enrolment.
More female teachers are needed.
More schools must have appropriate facilities.
Norway is contributing to these efforts in Afghanistan; both bilaterally and through programmes like the Global Partnership for Education supporting girls' attendance through community-based schooling in insecure areas.
We have doubled our support for education globally over the last four years.
Norway is financing Faryab's second dormitory for women which will be completed in a few months. The first dormitory opened in 2015.
Getting women into higher education can depend on something as basic as a safe place to stay.
Education is fundamental to all development.
Norway is a long-term partner for Afghanistan. We take pride in the assistance we have given and continue to give, as well as the partnership and cooperation with the Afghan government to improve respect for girls' and women's rights.
In 2017, Norway extended the Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan in until the end of 2020. We have pledged to maintain a high level of development assistance and education for girls will remain a top priority.
We have a clear expectation that the Afghan government will fulfil its commitments. This includes important reforms.
We realise that the absence of peace jeopardises the gains women have made.
Afghanistan's development depends on peace and stability.
Sadly, over the last few years violence has increased. More areas are now insecure.
Whenever armed groups gain control of an area, Afghan women and girls suffer disproportionately.
I therefore welcome the offer of peace talks made by the Afghan government on 28 February.
I hope this will bring Afghanistan closer to a broad-based, national peace process and eventually to a negotiated end to the conflict.
In order for peace to bring real security, women must be given an important place in all such efforts.
To succeed women must also hold leadership positions in the security sector.
For example, Norwegian Special Forces have been mentoring and training the Afghan special police unit – CRU 222 – since 2007. This includes female units and female instructors.
I welcome the Afghan government's commitment to the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and to the meaningful participation of women in reconciliation, negotiation and reintegration at all levels.
No society can afford not to use its full human potential.