Women's leadership in rebuilding Afghanistan focus of UN-sponsored talks

Women's leadership in rebuilding Afghanistan focus of UN-sponsored talks

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Afghan women will have an opportunity to voice their priorities and hopes for the future of their country during a United Nations-sponsored roundtable next week on women's leadership role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) will convene the meeting from 10 to 11 December in Brussels, which will link to other processes on the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Representatives from the Afghan Women's Summit for Democracy are expected to brief participants on outcomes from consultations with women's groups and participants from the UN-sponsored talks in Bonn, Germany, including Afghan women who were part of official delegations.

UNIFEM said it was working to mobilize support and resources to ensure that Afghan women could fully participate in decision-making processes that shape their lives, focusing in part on supporting women's participation in reconstruction and peace building and using their leadership in the rebuilding of communities.

The agency also hopes to strengthen women's economic security as well as support initiatives to end violence against women and protect women's human rights.

Before the Taliban seized power, Afghan women made up half of government workers, 70 per cent of schoolteachers and 40 per cent of doctors in Kabul, UNIFEM said. In 1977, women also made up 15 per cent of the Loya Jirga, the traditional central governing council.

"Afghan women must have a direct say in the decisions that shape their future, that of their country and their children," said UNIFEM Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer. "Their needs and recommendations must help guide the UN's work in Afghanistan."