The UAE thanks Germany for convening this meeting today.
We meet at an important moment for Afghanistan, following the historic signing earlier this year of “The Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan”. This is a positive development that paves the way for intra-Afghan negotiations. The United Arab Emirates reiterates its hope that this represents a step towards achieving peace and security throughout Afghanistan. Much progress has been made to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in Afghanistan. Critical achievements include, for example, the scholarization of millions of girls, the fact that more than a quarter of Parliamentary seats are held by women, and that increasing numbers of women have been appointed to decision-making and executive roles in government and beyond.
Despite these important gains, the ongoing conflict has prolonged human suffering, impeded social and economic progress, and stymied the development of Afghanistan. As we look forward to a brighter future for the women of Afghanistan, the UAE would like to make four recommendations:
First, women must be included as part of any peace negotiation in Afghanistan. If women are sidelined, the prospects for sustainable peace are slim and long-lasting peace will remain elusive. It is therefore essential to support women’s meaningful participation at this stage and as a member of the Group of Friends of Women in Afghanistan, the UAE supports the call for women to be an integral part of the peace process.
Second, women at senior positions of leadership are ideally placed to represent the interests of women and girls in policymaking relating to peace and sustainable development. This high-level advocacy supports gender responsive and inclusive national systems which respects the promotion and protection of human rights of the women and girls of Afghanistan.
Third, achieving gender equality and empowering women requires multidimensional efforts, including tackling social norms and cultural practices that fuel inequality. This approach is especially applicable during the COVID-19 pandemic which has disproportionately affected women and girls, with increased reports of domestic violence and gender-based violence in many societies.
Finally, governments and international organizations can also continue to play a key role in promoting progress in Afghanistan. The UAE has been doing its part to assist the women and girls of Afghanistan through the Sheikha Fatima “Carpet of Peace” project. This initiative has created thousands of traditional carpet production jobs in Afghanistan and employs more than 4,000 people, 70 percent of whom are women. The initiative works with Afghan communities across the country, providing livelihoods to women who would otherwise have no income.
Today, as we stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, the UAE reaffirms its support for the full and meaningful participation of Afghan women in the peace process and the promotion and protection of their rights in their journey towards peace. Women have suffered deeply during Afghanistan’s forty years of war, and they desperately long for peace. We must ensure that they can reach their full potential and fully contribute to the development of their nation.