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Verveer On The Women Of Afghanistan

"Women’s inclusion is critical for negotiations on lasting peace worldwide, but perhaps nowhere is this more critical than in Afghanistan."

"Women’s inclusion is critical for negotiations on lasting peace worldwide, but perhaps nowhere is this more critical than in Afghanistan. Their voices must be heard," said U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer in a statement for the United States Senate. "The participation of Afghan women is critical for sustainable development, better governance, and peace – in short, they are essential to securing a better future for Afghanistan."

After the fall in late 2001 of the repressive Taliban regime and continuing through 2005, women began to make some immediate gains in politics, and slower gains elsewhere. Since 2005, however, deteriorating security conditions have made the prospect of women’s participation in public life more difficult.

Nine years after the fall of the Taliban regime, said Ambassador Melanne Verveer, "On every measure of development and in every sphere, women in Afghanistan continue to suffer solely because they were born female ... [Women's] political gains today appear fragile and require urgent and sustained attention from the international community."

Violence against women and girls, which is endemic in Afghan society, is perhaps the "greatest remaining impediment to women’s full civic participation," said Ambassador Verveer. "Institutions of justice ... are often flagrantly discriminatory toward women. Violence against women and girls in Afghanistan cannot be explained away as cultural or private; it is criminal and must be addressed as such."

This must change, because if the country is to make any kind of progress toward stabilization and prosperity, women must be included in the process.

That is why the U.S. government has been supporting local civil society organizations in providing civic education through training, capacity building, and support for media programs, said Ambassador Verveer. "Our efforts focus not only on building the capacity of women and mitigating the security issues that impede their political progress, but also on securing prominent allies within Afghan culture and society," she said.

"The future security, stability, and development of Afghanistan depend in large part on the degree to which women have an active role in rebuilding its civil society and a voice in their nation’s political process. ... There can be no progress, in Afghanistan or in any other part of the world, without women’s progress."