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sabato, Maggio 25, 2024

UNGA 76: Di Maio chairs ‘side event’ on women in Afghanistan

NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 21 – “We are very worried for recent actions undertook by Talibans, particularly for those harming women’s and girls’ human rights. Italy will be on the front line for the protection of these rights”, said today in New York the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio, who had just chaired a virtual side event of the General Assembly on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan focused on their right to education.

“We must safeguard results obtained during the last 20 years, and for this reason we set three objectives: include in all humanitarian interventions a share of actions and resources aimed at specific programmes for the protection of the rights of Afghan women and girls; promote an international mechanism to monitor the situation of human rights and enforce accountability for violations and abuses in Afghanistan; support human rights defenders, activists and journalists who work both in Afghanistan and outside the country: courageous women who risk daily violence, discrimination and intimidation”, said the Minister.

During the meeting, titled “Safeguarding the achievements of 20 years of International Engagement in Afghanistan: How to continue supporting the future of Afghan Women and Girls and their Access to Education”, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, spoke as well: “In a letter to the United Nations – said Chile’s former President – the Taliban announced their commitment for women’s human rights in light of religion and culture, but actual practices on the ground undermined and sadly contradicted these statements”. Bachelet also observed that “there is real and tangible fear among Afghan women for the return of the brutal and systematic repression of women and girls by the Taliban during the ’90”.

Co-organised Italy with UN Women, UNICEF and other States, the meeting was attended by government officials, activists for human rights, UN agencies and young women who fight for the rights of women throughout the globe. It allowed to summarise the steps forward that the rise to power of the Taliban is putting at risk, especially in light of the conquest made by women in the last 20 years: at the beginning of 2021, they accounted for 27% of the members of the Parliament and one fifth of public officials, among which 35% of teachers and 12% of judges. Around 3.5 million girls were attending school, while in 1999 no girl was enrolled in secondary school and just 9,000 attended primary school. Average lifetime for women increased by around a decade, from 56 to 65 years, and maternal and infant mortality considerably diminished.

Events occurred during the last few months seriously jeopardised these progresses. Special attention – as has been noted during the meeting – should be devoted to the preservation of the access to education for Afghan girls, as a fundamental tool for women empowerment and as essential element for a resilient, inclusive and peaceful society.Limitations in access to education do not only reduce the opportunities that girls and young women may have in their future life. They also have an immediate impact on their lives, exposing them to increasing vulnerability, risks of physical and sexual violence and abuse, leaving long-lasting psychological scars.

Educating girls is one of the smartest investments that can be made to lift people out of poverty, grow economies, save lives, and build back better from COVID-19. “UNICEF – said Executive Director of the UN agency Henrietta Fore during the side event – has been working with Afghan children on the field for over 70 years. We will keep on being there for them, but we need your help. There is no bigger urgency than taking the side of Afghan children, boys and girls but especially of girls, and of people that inspire and guide them”.

Afghanistan, alongside Libya, climate, UN system reform and the Sahel, is on top of the agenda for Italy during this General Assembly. Tomorrow, Di Maio will chair a G20 ministers’ meeting that will pave the way to the leaders’ meeting that PM Draghi is looking to convene after the UN General Assembly. “It is an important opportunity to keep the spotlight on that country, we cannot afford to overlook the news regarding violations of women’s human rights and the risk of terrorism”, anticipated the Minister while meeting the press at the headquarters of the Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN. Di Maio added that Italy never stopped working for the evacuations of civilians from Afghanistan: “We are doing this right now as well”. (@giorgiodelgallo)

Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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