Strengthening Women in Afghanistan Creates Foundation for Peace, Prosperity

Posted by Melanne Verveer
July 2, 2009
Women Walk Along City Outskirts in Afghanistan

About the Author: Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer serves as director of the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues.

I traveled to Afghanistan on June 24, to learn firsthand what conditions are like for Afghan women today and to reaffirm our commitment to them. I spent time in Kabul and in Badghis, and I spoke with women and men at every level that I could: parliamentarians in Kabul, and villagers in Badghis; female candidates for the Provincial Council, brave businesswomen, journalists, and dozens of NGO workers. I visited a state-of-the-art women’s detention center that housed inmates whose crime was suspicion of having a boyfriend. And I heard how this clean and modern jail was sometimes the safest place for such young women: upon their return, some former prisoners have been shot by their relatives; others have been scalded to death by boiling water.

I returned with the firm conviction that we must stop losing ground on women’s rights in Afghanistan.

I saw progress in the unity of the women’s organizations, which speak with one voice now more than ever. I saw hope in the growing realization, among ordinary Afghan citizens, that a country in which 42 percent of the population earns less than one dollar a day cannot afford to let half its economic potential go untapped. But I also saw the challenges that remain: the 700 schools that the Taliban burned down last year alone; the crimes against women that will never be solved or, likely, even investigated; the women who remain unaware that their own national Constitution guarantees them equal rights.

Afghanistan is preparing for elections, both for president and for the provincial councils. This is the time to ensure that all the candidates in what we hope will be fair and inclusive contests prioritize women’s needs. We must work with Afghanistan, through the Ministry of Interior, to ensure that all candidates have the physical security and freedom of movement they need to conduct their campaigns. We must ensure that every woman is able to vote and able to cast her ballot free from coercion.

The status of women in Afghanistan is a bellwether for the future of that country. When we strengthen them – when they make progress towards an equal political voice, towards economic participation, towards access to education and healthcare and freedom from violence – we create a stable and lasting foundation for a peaceful and prosperous society.

Read Ambassador Verveer’s recent press briefing on her travel to Afghanistan and follow the activities of the Office of Global Women’s Issues on Facebook.

Comments

Comments

Amir
July 2, 2009

Amir writes:

=)

John
|
Greece
July 2, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer -- I live miles away from Afghanistan, but you made me understand and feel the situation. Thanks God, we have people like you working around the Globe for a better future!

I am not an expert in judging texts or posts, but I found your writing extremely interesting and important. You made me "travel" to a socio-political environment I would not have the possibility to think about and evaluate without your great accurate -- according to my opinion -- descriptions.

I can understand how much your time schedule is "heavy", but PLEASE Mrs. Ambassador write us more about the "pictures" you got from this trip.

If you allow me a poor comment for this issue: Women are THE vital component for making our world better, democratic, and more humanitarian.

America was build this way too. Based on women's efforts too.

This is why I find your post very important!

I will finish my text by saying something DipNote: "when it comes to love or its ego-resolution" many of us (men) say that women are not so important. However, when it comes to real life, we (men) know how important you (ladies) are.

Thank you very much for your post.

@ Amir -- what is this? =)

Should we get the Navajo code again? We did crypto first!

I mean, if you want to write something use words, there are old guys inhere like me that cannot understand the sign lang.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
July 3, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ John in Greece -- The symbol that Amir used is a smile symbol. My daughter will often text it to me on my cellphone. I believe that Amir was posting this as a positive comment. A "thumbs up", job well done symbol. Two eyes and a mouth smiling. =)

John
|
Greece
July 3, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Susan in Florida -- Thank you very much for your response concerning [:)] and especially for your kind words in your recent "Welcome area" comment. You are really a DipNote treasure!

To be honest with you, although old enough (LOL) in my early forties, I knew what this mob symbolism means (CHUCKLE). Actually if you hit : ) in your keyboard [in a Windows platform] you get a smile + a face!!!

However, my suggestion to Amir had to do with bringing to table something "DipEr" in terms of linguistics (modern literature) perspective.

What I mean is that words are really stronger than symbols. And of course more secure in terms of understanding the initial meaning of what the writer probably wants to say. For example, when we write LOL or CHUCKLE, the meaning is absolutely secure. You cannot have misunderstandings.

Nevertheless, a "smile symbol" can be either a positive smile, or an ironical one. Someone can say that I love this "Afghanistan" efforts and that's why I smile due to my positive stance, but someone else can also smile with a tendency to dispute, to question the future results of the diplomatic project. This is what I wanted to clarify.

I also wish that Amir shared with us a positive comment, on the ground that the U.S. of America changed the nightmare of a nation that used to die, by making them live, create and dream again. This time for real!

And of course

@ Amir: There is nothing personal. I apologize if I did not express my comprehension fears the best way. Keep on posting no matter even if you disagree with something. This is the real value of DipNote: FREEDOM of expression.

Susan, thank you very much for the opportunity you offered me to write some more words. Thank you for being here. Best Regards!

Susan
|
Florida, USA
July 3, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ John in Greece -- Thank you for your encouraging words. I hope I did not sound insulting when I explained that symbol to you. I should have realized that you knew its meaning. Actually, with the help of my children, I am still learning the different symbols. They have encouraged me to be more tech literate. It is definitely of their generation. Again, thank you for your kind words. :)

Anna
|
District Of Columbia, USA
July 6, 2009

Anna in Washington DC writes:

Ambassador Verveer -- Thank you for your work. I could not agree more that the status of women in Afghanistan is an indicator of whether the country will find peace. No country that holds women back will progress.

Johnson
|
Australia
July 13, 2009

Johnson writes:

Its doing good job afghan women,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

.

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