Government • 05 September, 2018

​Conference Empowering Womenin Afghanistan Opens in Astana

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The regional'EmpoweringWomen in Afghanistan' conference was held on September 5 in Astana.

In his welcoming address to the conference, delivered by State Secretary GulsharaAbdykalikova, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said that the agenda of the conference “puts emphasis on the special role of women in the modern world and their invaluable contribution to addressing many political and social challenges, settling conflicts, maintaining peace and security, improving the life and welfare of the society.”

“Since Kazakhstan gained its Independence, it has dedicated sustained efforts to achieve the highest world standards in gender policy and strengthen the role of women in the public and political life of the country. Kazakhstan has ratified all the fundamental international instrumentson gender equality, the benchmarks of which have been developed in our strategic and policy papers,” the head of state stressed in his address.

President Nazarbayevunderlined that with the active support of the entire international community, Kazakhstan, as a member of the UN Security Council, has placedan emphasis on ensuring security in Central Asia and Afghanistan. In this process, the empowerment of women is of paramount importance.

“Commending the steps taken by the Afghan government to improve the situation of women in the country and ensure gender equality, we stand for the early achievement of peace on the Afghan land, including through the concept of 'for Afghans and by Afghans',” the address said. According to the President, international meetings such as the Astana conference help to join the efforts of theinternational community and, taking into account a wide range of opinions, allow for the open discussionof the world's most pressing issues.

The Astana conference was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan jointly with the European Union, the Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the Eurasian Media Forum. The event brought together high-level delegations from Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the United States, Uzbekistan, and the United Nations.

“Security threats and other problems that Afghanistan continues to face require sustained support from the countries of the region and the international community, with the leading role of the United Nations. Promoting the interests of the fraternal Afghan people is our priority,” said Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov at the opening of the conference.

The address underscored Kazakhstan's willingness to continue all-round assistance to the peace process and the reconstruction of Afghanistan. As a member of the UN Security Council, and the first Central Asian country to hold the position, Kazakhstan represents not only Central Asia,but also Afghanistan. Under Kazakhstan's presidency of the Council in January 2018, the Council held a ministerial debate on 'Building Regional Partnership in Afghanistan and Central Asia as a Model to Link Security and Development'. The Security Council emphasised its commitment to a political settlement of the situation in Afghanistan, primarily based on the relationship between security and development. The Kazakh presidency also organised a visit of the UN Security Council members to Afghanistan.

“At the bilateral level, Kazakhstan is open for cooperation in transit and logistics of commercial cargo, energy, construction of motor roads and railways, and mining. At the initiative of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan undertook to train a thousand Afghan students and allocated $50 million for it,” Mr. Abdrakhmanov said. Kazakhstan also supports Afghanistan'sengagement in economic cooperation with Central Asia. The Foreign Minister further noted that it is necessary to prioritisesocial and economic development, adopting a comprehensive programme with the broad involvement of international business in specific economic projects.

Kazakhstan attaches great importance to the activity of all those working to empower women and strengthening stability in Afghanistan. It is hoped that the participants of the conference will support the projects developed in preparation for, and resulting from, the conference.

In addition, according to the Kazakh representatives, Kazakhstan and other countries in the region have significant experience in the collaboration between the government and civil sector. “Through the strengthening of public and private partnership, the countries of the region implement gender-oriented programmes which expand the participation of women in political, economic and social processes. Together with our regional partners, we are ready to share this experience with our Afghan colleagues,” the Kazakh foreign ministry said.

The opening of the forum included statements by Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman, Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan TanzilaNarbayeva, Vice Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan AltynaiOmurbekova, Minister of Women's Affairs of Afghanistan DelbarNazari, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Central Asia Natalia Gherman, as well as a video addressbyAdviser to the US PresidentIvanka Trump.

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