June 01, 2016
A national summit on gender equality was recently held in Afghanistan that brought together activist and civil society groups to set priorities and establish coalitions.
The gathering of nearly 300 people, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Promote Musharikat project, was the first of its kind and features female participants from all 34 provinces of Afghanistan. At the summit, women’s equality activists identified three high-priority issues for women: 1) access to education, 2) violence against women, and 3) access to economic opportunities. With Musharikat support, the delegates will lead efforts to influence national legislation, public policy, and public opinion regarding these issues.
Afghanistan’s leader, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, spoke at the event, saying:
“Here are women coming from various parts of the country with a huge number of problems. They have come up with three main issues—education, which is a fundamental issue; women’s economic empowerment; and violence against women. The approaches offered here will help us achieve the goal. I assure you the full commitment of the National Unity Government to support Promote-related programs in general, and in particular Musharikat, and generally to support women’s role in the society.”
The summit was the culmination of a series of regional forums held from January through April, during which women-focused civil society organizations and activists throughout Afghanistan collectively identified and prioritized the most critical issues impacting Afghan women.
U.S. Ambassador P. Michael McKinley, who also spoke at the event, commended the women on their strong start. “By the conclusion of Musharikat, a broad and inclusive group of women’s rights groups and activists will have come together to strengthen women’s equality and empowerment by successfully advocating for changes in laws, practices, and public perceptions that negatively affect Afghan women’s lives.”
Promote Musharikat project will work with more than 50 civil society groups and 5,000 activists across all 34 provinces to prioritize and address the issues that limit women’s full participation in Afghan society. Musharikat is part of the USAID Promote initiative, a joint commitment by the U.S. and Afghan governments to empower more than 75,000 women across Afghanistan over the next five years.
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