Speech/statement | Date: 15/11/2013 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- As we now enter a new phase in Afghanistan - with the withdrawal of ISAF - we must ensure that the hard-won gains of Afghan women are not lost. We will hold the Afghan Government accountable, said Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende, in his remarks at Georgetown University.
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What we are discussing today are the fundamental human rights and freedoms shared by all human beings. The rights and freedoms that everyone is entitled to – men and women alike.
Over the past decade, the women of Afghanistan have glimpsed the chance of a better future. Many women and girls can now attend school. They can go to university, vote, have jobs and pursue professions. One quarter of the members of parliament are now women. Several ministers are female.
In short: the rights and opportunities of Afghan women have been considerably enhanced since the end of the Taliban regime in 2001.
And yet, there is still a long way to go. A recent UN report expressed alarm at the violence against women.
We see threats against women and targeted killings of women working for the Government and female human rights advocates. We read reports of schoolgirls being attacked. As activist Wazhma Frogh said: "We have hundreds of Malalas every day in Afghanistan."
As we now enter a new phase in Afghanistan - with the withdrawal of ISAF - we must ensure that the hard-won gains of Afghan women are not lost. We will hold the Afghan Government accountable.
Women must be allowed to participate fully in all aspects of economic development. This could unlock the potential of Afghanistan. We know that investments in gender equality yield the highest returns of all development investments.
More women must be included in politics. The presidential and provincial elections in April will determine the future direction of Afghanistan and its people.
34 % of the registered voters are women. That is good news. But more women should run as candidates, and they need support from the Government and the media. And it must be safe for women to go to the ballot box on election day.
Political stability in Afghanistan will not be achieved without a true peace process. Women must be part of this.
Afghan civil society and women’s organisations (many of you present today) have a crucial role to play at this defining moment for the future of Afghanistan.
You can count on Norway´s continued support for your important work, not only next year, but also in 2018 and 2020. Together we will work to secure the gains made by the women and the people of Afghanistan.