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Time to close gender gap in Afghanistan: UNAMA

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(Last Updated On: March 7, 2020)

UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Tadamichi Yamamoto, said, “The time has come to close the gender gap in Afghanistan.”

In a press release, 5 March, Tadamichi Yamamoto said that gender equality offered solutions to some of the most intractable problems in Afghanistan, adding that in all over Afghanistan, women were worse off than men – simply because they are women.

Nonetheless, he said, “We have seen significant progress on women’s rights in Afghanistan, including formal legislation and national action plans, we continue to see powerful social and political pushback, both directly and indirectly. This situation must change for Afghan women, and for the benefit of Afghanistan as a nation.”

However, he said that women and girls in Afghanistan still contended with centuries of misogyny and the erasure of their achievements, prevented from going to school, relegated to performing menial work, ridiculed, judged on their looks, and confronted by everyday sexism, harassment, and victim-blaming.

“These are barriers to solving many of the challenges and threats that Afghanistan faces as a nation,” he added.

Yamamoto also noted that the lack of gender balance in universities and commerce in Afghanistan requires concerted and coordinated bridging solutions that are shaping Afghanistan’s future.

“Afghanistan has an opportunity to rectify the lack of women’s full representation in political decision-making. What is especially crucial in the period ahead is to focus on Afghan women’s representation and their effective participation in peace negotiations,” the statement underscored.

Following the recent US-Taliban agreement for bringing peace to Afghanistan, Yamamoto  underlined that women should not be marginalized “not only of women’s equal representation in any formal intra-Afghan peace process but also in upholding, protecting and advancing Afghan women’s human rights.”

The statement further read, “It is abundantly clear that Afghan women must be an integral part of any formal peace negotiations. As has been proven time and time again in other contexts around the globe, women’s full and meaningful participation in peace negotiations greatly increases the sustainability of peace accords.”

Yamamoto spoke out the UN’s role saying that the United Nations continues to provide expert advice and technical support to Afghan women to participate effectively in peace talks. Women’s “voices at the peace table are essential,” he said.

“The time has come to close the gender gap in Afghanistan, not just in any coming peace negotiations, but in post-peace arrangements, with real voice and agency, and in all aspects of Afghanistan’s social, economic, civic and political life,” the statement concluded.

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Pakistan calls on Biden to stick to US-Taliban deal

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(Last Updated On: January 22, 2021)

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, on Thursday called on Joe Biden, the US president to follow up on the current Afghan peace process and US troops’ withdrawal from the country, reported Al Jazeera.

“I think they should realise there is an opportunity in Afghanistan and they should persevere with what was initiated and not reverse things,” said Qureshi quoted by Al Jazeera.

This comes as Intra-Afghan talks are continuing in the Qatari capital Doha but progress remains slow.

Under last year’s US-Taliban deal, all US troops are due to leave Afghanistan by April.

“We are concerned because we feel violence can vitiate the climate,” said Qureshi quoted by Aljazeera.

“Pakistan has done a lot, we have really bent backwards to create an environment to facilitate the peace process,” he said, while blaming “spoilers” for the violence, identifying them as internal Afghan players.

This comes as violence has been increased recently, with a surge in targeted attacks and bombings across the country for which the Afghan government has blamed the Taliban.

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NATO stands ready to adjust its presence in Afghanistan: Stoltenberg

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(Last Updated On: January 22, 2021)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu reiterated NATO Support toward Afghan peace process, adding that NATO will address its training mission in Afghanistan in February.

Stoltenberg quoted by NATO website said that “whatever path we choose, it is important that we do so together, in a coordinated and deliberate way.”

NATO also support the Afghan peace process and said the organization stands ready to adjust its presence in Afghanistan.

 “NATO supports the Afghan peace talks and, as part of this process, stands ready to further adjust its presence,” said NATO, quoted by the website.

This comes as NATO had said they will continue Resolute Support mission (RS) mission in Afghanistan to train advice and assist Afghan forces.

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MoU on protection, restoration of Herat minarets signed in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: January 22, 2021)

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on restoration and protection of Musalla Minaret of Herat on Thursday signed between the acting minister of information and culture and a representative of Aga Khan Foundation in Kabul.

Dr. Fazel Fazly, head of the Administrative Office of the President (AOP) also spoke and expressed happiness regarding signing of the MoU.

“Technical assistance of the Aga Khan Development Network to Afghanistan government in the field of protection and restoration of the country’s historic monuments from perspective of quality is valuable and tangible as the Network considers all international standards in protection and restoration of cultural and historic monuments,” said Dr. Fazly.

Meanwhile, Sheherazade Hirji, a representative of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) said that AKDN has restored hisprotic places in Herat, including Qala-e-Ikhtiaruddin ‘Herat Palace’, Khwaja Abdullah Ansari Mausoleum.

 “Aga Khan Development Network has restored 140 – 150 historic sites in Afghanistan so far and is currently playing its part in restoration of the fifth Musalla Minarets of Herat, which shows the Network’s strong commitment towards protection Afghanistan’s cultural heritages,” said Hirji.

Tahir Zuhair, acting minister of information and culture, said that 162 historic sites have been restored in the past six years.

He said effort underway to prevent trafficking of the country’s historic artefacts.

“Based on instruction of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the survey and restoration work on all Bala-e-Hesars and historic sites of the country will be started,” said Zuhair.

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