Launch of the Group of Friends for Women in Aghanistan
Group of Friends for Women in Afghanistan
Remarks by Mrs Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
United Nations – 18 November 2019
Madam Permanent representative of Afghanistan, dear Adela,
Madam Assistant Secretary general,
Baroness Hodgson of Abinger
I’d like first to pay tribute to the women and girls in Afghanistan who have been extraordinary resilient in face of extreme violence and extreme inequality. They could not have a better Representative than you, dear Adela, here, to make sure the world does not forget to preserve and defend their hard-won rights, as Baroness Hodgson emphazised. I also fully agree that working for the empowerment of women and girls in Afghanistan is emblematic of the fight for women’s empowerment worldwide, in particular in situations of conflict and in the context of peace negotiations and processes.
There are at least two reasons, I think, for France to be part of this group: France is a long-standing friend of Afghanistan and we are also a very strong promoter and supporter of a feminist foreign policy. In this regard, we will host the Forum Generation Equality next July to celebrate the anniversary of the Beijing Declaration, Beijing +25, which also coincides with other anniversaries, including the 20th anniversary of the Agenda Women, Peace and Security.
As has been said by everyone, we are all here to highlight the essential role that the women of Afghanistan have in building peace in their own country. The fundamental point is that for women to be the empowered and for women to secure their rights, they first need to have a seat at the negotiating table. They first have to be part of the decision making. That’s really the crux of the matter as Madam Madeleine Rees explained very well. And Madam Kakar explained to us that some progress has been made in this regard as in Doha we had the active participation of a delegation of Afghan women. But more can and needs to be done. Women must be sitting at the decision making table for the long run, and they should probably sit at both sides of the table. I’d be interested in your views about the possibility of having women in the Taliban delegation at these talks. The Ambassador of Ireland rightfully emphasized that the participation of women in elections must be encouraged. And that means also that we need to provide them with protection and financial and practical help. I think we all have to stand by the side of those women who can make the difference, who can bring change to Afghanistan and this is where I see the added value of this Group of Friends. It’s within this perspective that my country, France, has welcomed last June in Paris a delegation of high profile women from Afghanistan and we really remain committed to continuing helping them. I think our group can also organize peer to peer support.
In terms of raising awareness and working with the media, we can also organize activities in this regard. Last week, there was the French cinema week and in this framework we screened a movie called “the Swallows of Kabul” that is a powerful reminder of the violations of the rights of women that happened under the Taliban regime. We could do similar activities to raise awareness here, in the world of the UN, and beyond, in the city of New York, and hopefully reaching out to larger audiences.
And finally, to conclude, I think our group can provide useful encouragement to the authorities of Afghanistan and to UNAMA for the full implementation of the National Action plan of Afghanistan, with regard to the Agenda Women, Peace and Security. We can provide leverage, so that these priorities remain on top of the Agenda at the Security Council.