The future of Afghanistan lies in “strengthening women’s role in the society”, Minister Emma Bonino underscored in a speech at the conference “Afghanistan 2014, a year of change: status and prospects for Afghan women”, sponsored by Actionaid, an international NGO working to combat poverty and social exclusion.
Major advances but must remains to be done
In recent years women have made “major advances on the level of political participation, while similar progress has not been seen at other levels”, the minister explained: only 5.8% of women have a secondary school education (compared with 34% of men); for every 100,000 births, 460 women die in childbirth; only 15.7% of women are employed (compared with 80.3% of men). Bonino stressing that in this phase of “great change” for Afghanistan (presidential elections, handover by foreigners of security responsibility) it was going to be “fundamental not to lose sight of the priority objective of promoting human rights”.
Italy expects progress on human rights
Italy will continue to support Afghanistan, in keeping with the 2012 partnership and cooperation accord, but at the same time expects “substantial advances in the defence of women and gender rights, and in the more complex project of democratic growth”. A sign of “great attention”, which bears witness to the commitment that underpins our bilateral relations” with Afghanistan, was seen in the recent reconstitution of the Contact Group of Italian MPs with Afghan women, which was active on various fronts in the previous legislatures and prominent in many initiatives. This group “will certainly be able to make a useful contribution” on behalf of bolstering women’s rights in Afghanistan, the minister added, recalling the Italian Cooperation’s “frontline commitment”, particularly in the sectors of mother and child healthcare, economic empowerment and institutional development, and the rights of women and the elimination of gender violence.
Afghan women parliamentarians to visit Italy
The workshop, hosted by the Lower House, was organised to coincide with the visit to Italy by Afghan women parliamentarians participating in a 3-year project designed by Actionaid and co-financed by the Italian foreign ministry, entitled “An integrated approach to the reduction of violence against women in Afghanistan”.