UN stresses women’s economic empowerment
The government had developed measures to advance women’s participation and protect them from harm, the UN said, adding the measures must be fully implemented so that greater numbers could participate in the workforce.
Kabul has pledged to increase the presence of women in government institutions to 30 per cent by the year 2020. Currently, women’s participation countrywide is far below the target.
In a statement, the UN said it was encouraged by the representation of women in public life, including within ministries, parliament and civil society, but the effort should be doubled to ensure women’s voices were heard in public life.
The UN hailed the launch of the economic empowerment program for women as a key step forward to opening more doors for women’s participation at all levels, and encouraged the government to continue to prioritise investment in education, healthcare and business financing for women.
Such steps would help reduce the gap between women’s and men’s labour force participation, leading to greater economic growth across all sectors of society, the world body hoped.
“Women’s economic empowerment is a crucial precondition to effectively address poverty, inequality and violence against women,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan.
“While much progress has been made, many women continue to face economic and social barriers to meaningful employment as well discrimination in the workplace and in other areas of life.”
For real change, the UN envoy stressed, the essential agenda must be a priority. “Empowering Afghan women will allow them to share their voice and exert influence on matters of national concern, including in development, politics and most importantly peace.”
The UN supports the government’s efforts to strengthen the implementation of gender commitments in compliance with Afghanistan’s international obligations, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Global Agenda 2030.
“While progress has been made over the last decade to protect women’s rights and address violence against women, we recognise there can be no impact unless laws are known, implemented and enforced,” said Shruti Upadhyay, acting country representative of UN Women.
Upadhyay went on to say that Afghanistan’s national and local policies must be strengthened in tandem with government and civil society advocacy to change perceptions towards working women in a way that creates capacity-building initiatives, workforce opportunities and equal access to finance and markets.
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