» Director-General highlights the role of women's empowerment at Brussels Conference on Afghanistan
04.10.2016 - ODG

Director-General highlights the role of women's empowerment at Brussels Conference on Afghanistan


From 4 to 5 October, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova is undertaking a visit to Brussels (Belgium) to take part in the Conference on Afghanistan, co-hosted by the European Union and the Government of Afghanistan.

The Director-General of UNESCO participated in the first event of the Conference, on the theme of “Empowered Women, Prosperous Afghanistan”, on 4 October, in the Presence of H.E. President Ashraf Ghani and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Mr Neven Mimica and the First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani.

“Empowering women empowers society as a whole,” said President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, as he highlighted some of the key challenges facing gender equality across the country.

“Afghan Women do not need others to speak for them – they can speak for themselves, with clarity, vision and determination. They are Ministers, Ambassadors, farmers, entrepreneurs… they do not need charity. Charity does not empower. Skills, quality education, dignity do.” he said.

Quality Education and learning was the red thread of this first day of debate, and Irina Bokova underlined some of the programmes led by UNESCO in Afghanistan to foster girls and women education, including vocational training for employment and job market. “We must massively invest in girls’ education, including vocational training to foster skills, women’s participation and contribution to society – it is a human rights issue, a development issue and a security issue as well, for the cohesion and stability of the whole country,” said the Director-General.

 “Women are emerging from their homes to start businesses, to run for office. They are the faces of the new Afghanistan, and they need support,” she continued, deploring that only 2% of global humanitarian aid goes to education, and calling for change.

In her opening remarks, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini declared: "This is not a side event, this is the core issue, and it is highly significant that we have chosen to start this Conference with an event on women’s empowerment: this is key to the future of the country and set the tone to our discussions today and tomorrow.” 

In the margin of the Conference, Irina Bokova participated in a debate with the members of the EU Women Causus, composed of women parliamentarian, female permanent representatives of EU countries and institutions, and exchanged on the importance of women role models across the globe, to encourage young girls to take responsibilities and pursue their dreams. "It is not only beneficial for women, it moves an entire society forward, men and women alike."

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