Opening Remarks by Ambassador Youssof Ghafoorzai at International Women’s Day Event
Solidarity and Support for Women and Girls in Afghanistan – March 7, 2023
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is our great pleasure to welcome you to this special event in commemoration of International Women’s Day and expression of support for women and girls in Afghanistan.
To the Nobel Peace Center and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee: thank you for helping make this event possible.
I also thank other friends and partners, including the Norwegian Refugee Council Oslo Met University and other friends for contributing to this event.
Secretary General Jan Egeland: thank you for joining, us but more importantly for your friendship with Afghanistan, especially in difficult times.
This evening we want to also express solidarity with all women around the world who are facing a difficult situation in conflict settings such as Ukraine and elsewhere.
As you all know, Afghanistan is once again facing a very difficult situation.
The reasons and factors which resulted in the current situation are many and complicated.
All Afghans have been affected by the deep crisis, but women and girls are most affected.
They again face a situation which is not seen in any part of the world and which cannot be justified, under any context.
The women of Afghanistan are denied their fundamental, universal and Islamic rights.
Not being allowed to get an education, work and express their views openly without fear of intimidation and persecution.
These rights are not just permitted in Islam. They are an obligation.
In many ways, the challenges facing Afghan women are more complicated than what they were during the late 1990’s – a period that no one ever imagined could be repeated.
Despite the current situation, the women of Afghanistan have not been passive nor silent.
The policies imposed may have restricted and taken away their rights – but they haven’t been able to weaken their courage and commitment.
Afghan women inside and outside Afghanistan are making their voices heard and not just defending their rights.
But In a very unique way they are defending the rights of all Afghans.
The diaspora community, including here in Norway are an important part of that effort in defending other national values and trying to find a solution to the crisis in Afghanistan.
Esteemed Colleagues, Distinguished Guests,
The other point I want to emphasize is that what is now taking place is NOT a reflection of our history, our culture, religion or national identity.
Respect and admiration of women’s contributions in society have long been part of our nation’s proud history.
Afghan women were first able to vote in 1919 just a year after gaining independence.
And for decades and decades, they contributed to the advancement of their society.
This reflects the very strong link between women’s rights and democracy with Afghanistan’s true national identity.
In times of stability, peoples of different cultures, nationalities and faiths have visited and even lived in Afghanistan.
Many still recall the very fond memories and their experience with our culture, traditions and the warm hospitality of our people.
Afghanistan is a nation whose sons and daughters contributed to the advancement of human civilization as poets, thinkers, artists and scholars.
The responsibility before us is not just to overcome the current crisis; it is also about restoring our legacy as a nation that contributes to the advancement of human civilization.
There are moments in history when an event or cause becomes the defining factor for a country to overcome a crisis and achieve stability.
I believe history will again speak of the courage of Afghan women as the very factor that eventually brings true peace to a united Afghanistan.
Today, Afghan women are not just defending their rights. They are also working to find a solution that leads to a permanent and dignified peace for all Afghans.
In two decades of partnership the support of Norway and other international friends of Afghanistan, including nations and organizations represented here tonight enabled Afghan women to become a powerful force for progress.
Your continued support for Afghan women and for stability in Afghanistan is greatly appreciated.
Looking forward, we believe the best way to protect and advance women’s rights is by ensuring inclusive and legitimate governance that is representative of all sides and able to meet the aspirations of the people.
This is the only guarantee for a real peace.
And it can only be achieved through a political process and settlement in which all Afghans are part of, especially women.
Thus, we call on the international community to help start the political process that is needed to reach such an agreement. And convincing the Taliban to commit to such a process should be one among several priorities.
At the same time, the international community should place the people especially women, at the center of all peace-building efforts.
Thank you once again and I now have the pleasure to introduce Kjersti Flogstad Director of the Nobel Peace Center for her remarks.