Afghan women's meeting kicks off in Brussels
Brussels, Dec 10, IRNA -- A 2-day roundtable on women's leadership role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan began in Brussels Monday. Speaking at a press conference here Monday afternoon, Afghan women participants called for a strong women's participation in the reconstruction of their country.
''Women must contribute strongly in the formation of the future government in Afghanistan,'' said G. Balchi of the 'Cyprus group'.
Balchi, who participated in the UN sponsored talks on Afghansitan in Bonn, said two women are represented in the new interim administration of Hamid Karzai.
''The interim government is a test how they will change things,'' said Balchi who currently lives in Iran.
The Brussels meeting is organised by the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) with the cooperation of the Government of Belgium.
''Afghan women must have a direct say in the decisions than shape their future, that of their country and their children,'' said Noeleen Heyzer, UNFIEM executive director.
Ahmed Yar, who has been working for the last 12 years for the Afghan Women's Resource Centre in Peshawar said before the Taliban seized power, Afghan women made up of 50 percent of government workers, 70 percent of school teachers and 40 percent of doctors in Afghanistan.
Yar, who was one of the 12 women representative in the Loya Jirga (the traditional central governing council), before the Taliban ruled, called for fifty percent women representation in the new Loya Jirga.
''If women are in the minority in the Jirga, how can they influence things,'' she asked?
The Afghan participants urged the international media to focuss on the reconstruction of Afghanistan and not merely on the war.
''We Afghans are not terrorists. The war must stop. Refugees should return safely,'' stressed Balkhi.
They also said that Afghanistan wants good ties with its neighbouring countries, but noted that they were unhappy with Pakistan's support to Taliban in the past. Monday's meeting was the second within the space of one week, on the future of Afghan women to be held in Brussels. An 'Afghan women's summit for Democracy' was held in Brussels from 4-5 December.
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