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World leaders band together for Afghan women to have a voice

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(Last Updated On: September 12, 2020)

Over 100 formidable leaders from around the world have joined together as signatories to an open letter calling for meaningful participation of Afghan women in the peace process that started in Doha Saturday. 

They stated that substantive involvement of women in peace talks makes agreements more likely to be attained and upheld.

Among those who signed the letter, issued by Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, are Madeleine Albright, Former United States Secretary of State; Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates; Laura Bush, Former First Lady of the United States; Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former United States Secretary of State; Ban Ki-moon, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations; and John Kerry, Former United States Secretary of State among others. 

In total, 104 leaders signed the letter that called on “all relevant national, regional and international actors to pursue a peaceful, stable Afghanistan by ensuring women’s full participation in the peace process.”

They stated that after 40 years of conflict, there may finally be an opportunity for peace but that the international community has an obligation to assist with ensuring that the peace forged is durable and this opportunity is not squandered.

“As global leaders and foreign policy experts, we have seen clear proof that women’s involvement is key to establishing a lasting and sustainable peace,” the letter read. 

“The substantive involvement of women in peace talks makes agreements more likely to be attained and upheld. We have seen evidence of women’s powerful influence in peace processes in recent times, from Colombia to the Philippines. 

“The direct impact women’s participation has on ensuring stability makes their inclusion an international security issue, which the UN Security Council recognized when it adopted the landmark resolution on Women, Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325) twenty years ago this fall.”

The letter went on to state that the international community should prioritize women’s meaningful inclusion in order to help obtain the long-term security goals the world has been working towards for decades. 

The progress made in Afghanistan since women have begun to be integrated into society was also noted and the Taliban’s ban on girls being educated was raised. 

“Women went from being virtually erased under Taliban rule to becoming policewomen, teachers, public officials, mayors and entrepreneurs,” they stated. 

In 2019, women accounted for 28 percent of the Afghan parliament – a proportion higher than 67 percent of countries tracked by the World Bank. 

“Guaranteeing the preservation of equality, democracy, and inclusivity will promote stability and help to protect future generations from the threat of extremism. Afghanistan, the region, and the world would all be safer as a result,” their letter stated.

Outlining what needs to be done, the group of leaders stated the following:

Given the key role of women in ensuring durable peace, the following measures are necessary:

  • Women need to be party to the negotiations, not just an issue to be discussed.
  • Women must be involved throughout every step of the process.
  • The perspective of women and youth must be reflected in any agreement.

 To ensure these goals are met, we call on the international community to do the following:

  • Persuade negotiators to preserve equal rights for all its citizens as guaranteed by the Afghan constitution.
  • Condition international aid on the preservation of the rights and liberties currently enjoyed by Afghan citizens, especially women’s rights.
  • Implement legitimate and established monitoring mechanisms for ensuring the maintenance of rights. Ensure these mechanisms are outlined in the peace agreement and that women are part of the development, implementation and monitoring of such mechanisms.

 The full list of signatories is as below: 

 Karen AbuZayd, Commissioner of the UN Inquiry on Syria and Former Commissioner-General of UNRWA

  • María Elena Agüero, Secretary-General of the Club de Madrid
  • Shamshad Akhtar, Former UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP
  • Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates
  • Madeleine Albright, Former United States Secretary of State
  • Amat Al Alim Alsoswa, Yemen’s Former Minister for Human Rights, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Assistant Administrator
  • Valerie Amos, Former UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
  • Mayu Ávila, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador
  • Lloyd Axworthy, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada
  • Ali Babacan, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
  • Jan Peter Balkenende, Former Prime Minister of The Netherlands
  • Carol Bellamy, Former Executive Director of UNICEF
  • Mohamed Benaissa, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Morocco
  • Catherine Bertini , Former Executive Director of the UN World Food Program
  • Carl Bildt, Former Prime Minister of Sweden
  • Julie Bishop, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia
  • Irina Bokova, Former Director-General of UNESCO
  • Lakhdar Brahimi, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria and UN Special Envoy for Afghanistan
  • Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway
  • Laura Bush, Former First Lady of the United States
  • Margaret Chan, Former Director-General of the World Health Organization
  • Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Administrator of UNDP
  • Joe Clark, Former Prime Minister of Canada
  • Sean Cleary, Chief Director of the Office of the Administrator General of Namibia
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former United States Secretary of State
  • Kathleen Cravero, Former UNDP Assistant Secretary-General for Conflict Prevention and Recovery
  • Staffan de Mistura, Former Under Secretary-General and UN Special Envoy to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria
  • Isabel de Saint Malo, Former Vice President of Panama
  • Erik Derycke, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium
  • Rut Diamint, Chief of Cabinet and Advisor to the Argentine Ministry of Defense
  • Lamberto Dini, Former Prime Minister of Italy
  • Paula J. Dobriansky, Former United States Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs
  • Alexander Downer, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia
  • Mikuláš Dzurinda, Former Prime Minister of Slovakia
  • Jan Eliasson, Former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden
  • María Fernanda Espinosa, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defence of Ecuador
  • Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • Joschka Fischer, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice-Chancellor of Germany
  • Louise Fréchette, Former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Robert Gates, Former United States Secretary of Defense
  • Rose Gottemoeller, Former Deputy Secretary-General of NATO
  • Dalia Grybauskaitė, Former President of Lithuania
  • Rebeca Grynspan, Ibero-American Secretary-General and Former Vice President of Costa Rica
  • Geeta Rao Gupta, Former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF
  • Stephen Hadley, Former United States National Security Advisor
  • Chuck Hagel, Former United States Secretary of Defense
  • Lord William Hague, Former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom
  • Tarja Halonen, Former President of Finland
  • Ameerah Haq, Former UN Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support
  • Stephen J. Harper, Former Prime Minister of Canada
  • Noeleen Heyzer, Former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • John Howard, Former Prime Minister of Australia
  • Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Former President of Estonia
  • Igor Ivanov, Former Foreign Minister of Russia
  • Atifete Jahjaga , Former President of Kosovo
  • Angelina Jolie , Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Medhi Jomaa, Former Prime Minister of Tunisia
  • Ivo Josipović , Former President of Croatia
  • Marina Kaljurand, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
  • John Kerry, Former United States Secretary of State
  • Rima Khalaf, Former UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCWA
  • Ban Ki-moon, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Former President of Poland
  • Rachel Kyte, Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All
  • Zlatko Lagumdžija , Former Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Tzipi Livni, Former Foreign Minister, Vice Prime Minister, and Minister of Justice of Israel
  • Jessie Rose Mabutas, Former Assistant President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development
  • Peter MacKay, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defence of Canada
  • Susana Malcorra, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina
  • Purnima Mane, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA
  • Mara Marinaki, EEAS Principal Advisor on Gender and on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security
  • Cindy McCain, Chair of the McCain Institute Board of Trustees
  • Sir Donald McKinnon, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand
  • Monica McWilliams, Former Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Signatory to the Northern Ireland Good Friday Peace Agreement
  • David Miliband, Former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom
  • Laura Chinchilla Miranda, Former President of Costa Rica
  • Amr Moussa, Former Secretary-General of the Arab League and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt
  • Marwan al-Muasher, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan
  • Roza Otunbayeva, Former President of Kyrgyzstan
  • Ana Palacio, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain
  • Leon Panetta, Former United States Secretary of Defense
  • George Papandreou, Former Prime Minister of Greece
  • Colin L. Powell, Former United States Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
  • Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Former Prime Minister of Denmark and Secretary-General of NATO
  • Òscar Ribas Reig, Former Prime Minister of Andorra
  • Condoleezza Rice, Former United States Secretary of State
  • Malcolm Rifkind, Former Secretary of State for Scotland, Defence Secretary, and Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom
  • Lord George Robertson, Former NATO Secretary-General and UK Defense Secretary
  • Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland
  • Fatiha Serour, UN Deputy Special Representative for Somalia
  • Karin Sham Poo, Former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF
  • Natan Sharansky, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Israel and Political Prisoner of the Soviet Union
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia
  • Gillian Sorensen, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations
  • Cassam Uteem, Former President of Mauritius
  • Jozias van Aartsen, Former Mayor of Amsterdam and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
  • Hubert Védrine, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of France
  • Ann Veneman, Former Executive Director of UNICEF
  • Melanne Verveer, Former United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues
  • Knut Vollebæk , Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway
  • Alexandr “Sasha” Vondra, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic
  • Margot Wallström, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden
  • José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Former Prime Minister of Spain
  • Miomir Žužul, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Croatia

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Baradar meets with Bayat chairman to discuss continued investment in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

The deputy prime minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) for economic affairs, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, met with Dr Ehsanollah Bayat, the chairman of the Bayat Group and its subsidiary the Bayat Foundation, this weekend to discuss the company’s future plans regarding ongoing investment in the country.

The Bayat Group is Afghanistan’s largest private diversified services company, comprising telecoms, media, energy, technology and other enterprises, while the Bayat Foundation provides life saving aid to Afghans in times of need as well as health services.

In their meeting Saturday, Baradar and Dr Bayat discussed investment possibilities in a number of sectors.

According to Baradar’s office, Dr Bayat said he was ready to invest in Afghanistan in the health, electricity and telecommunications sectors.

In a series of tweets, Baradar’s office noted that the deputy prime minister told Dr Bayat in the meeting: “We appreciate and support all the efforts of businessmen and investors in the economic reconstruction of the country.”

He added: “Anyone who invests in Afghanistan and provides job opportunities for the people, we will support him and assure them of their security in the country.”

Baradar also thanked Dr Bayat for the services being provided by the Bayat Group and by the Bayat Foundation.

From 4G LTE communications to electric power, broadcasting, high speed internet, construction and mobile money, The Bayat Group builds market-leading enterprises that provide Afghans with innovative and popular products and services.

A champion of Afghan-based economic development, The Bayat Group provides employment to more than 10,000 Afghans through its direct operations and employs more than 100,000 other Afghan citizens through its ecosystem of dealers and vendors.

The foundation, which was started in 2006, has meanwhile helped rebuild Afghanistan as well as deliver hope and support to the neediest and most at-risk Afghans.

Involved in building mosques, and in the health care and education sectors, the foundation also answers to calls following natural disasters and times of human suffering.

A key example of the type of assistance provided by the Bayat Foundation was in the aftermath of last week’s earthquake in Paktika and Khost provinces.

Within hours of Wednesday’s quake, the foundation had dispatched not only essential relief including shelter, blankets and food, but also a team of doctors and a mobile clinic with life saving medicines to treat the injured.

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China pledges over $7 million in aid for quake victims

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

China’s ambassador to Kabul Wang Yu met with Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and said his country would provide emergency aid worth 50 million Yuan ($7.5 million) for victims of last week’s earthquake. 

At a meeting on Saturday in Kabul, Wang also said that MCC Mes Aynak copper mining contractor would provide $200,000 in aid. 

Wang said on Twitter: “Chinese enterprises will definitely fulfill their social responsibilities. The friendship between 2 countries and peoples will be further strengthened.”

Muttaqi thanked the Chinese government and people for the timely assistance and assured Wang that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) authorities would distribute the aid promptly, fairly and transparently, state-run Bakhtar news agency reported. 

Aid provided by China will include tents, sheets, fold up beds, and other items urgently needed by the Afghan people. The first batch of aid is scheduled to arrive by charter flight on Monday, Bakhtar reported.

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Thousands of earthquake victims in need of water and food, at risk of disease

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

Thousands affected by a deadly earthquake in eastern Afghanistan are in need of clean water and food and are at risk of disease, an Afghan Health Ministry official said on Sunday days after a United Nations agency warned of a cholera outbreak in the region.

At least 1,000 people were killed, 2,000 injured and 10,000 homes destroyed in last Wednesday’s earthquake, after which the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that cholera outbreaks in the aftermath are of particular and serious concern.

“The people are extremely needy for food and clean water,” Afghanistan Health Ministry spokesperson Sharafat Zaman told Reuters, adding that officials had managed medicines for now but handling those who had lost their homes would be a challenge.

“We ask the international community, humanitarian organizations to help us for food and medicine, the survivor might catch diseases because they don’t have proper houses and shelters for living,” he said.

The UN and several countries have rushed aid to the affected areas, with more due to arrive over the coming days.

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