Panelists in a UN-backed TV debate in Khost stressed that the protection of women and children in Afghanistan not only is a social obligation, but also is required by national and international law.
The televised debate, organized by the regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), was set up to create a forum for community leaders and human rights experts to discuss the impact of the armed conflict on Afghan women and children and to highlight the obligations of parities to the conflict to protect them. The studio debate in Khost, a mountainous eastern province characterized by mostly rural communities, drew an audience of some 80 people, including government officials, religious scholars, youth advocates, Provincial Council members, human rights activists and Khost-based media professionals. Speaking during the debate, the provincial director of Women’s Affairs, Dr. Malalai Wali, expressed concern about the ongoing conflict. “The war has caused much suffering, with the majority of those suffering being women and children,” she said, urging appropriate representation of women in the High Peace Council and stressing the importance of women participating in any peace and reconciliation processes. Another panellist, human rights activist Nasir Rokhan, said the country’s future depends on Afghan children: “Let’s concentrate on saving the lives of the new generation, give them an education and build their capacity so that our nation prospers.” The panel discussed the issue from several perspectives, and in the end universally called on community leaders to work together to mitigate the impact of the conflict on women and children. They also urged the provincial government to facilitate children’s access to education and promote women’s empowerment by fostering the creation of vocational opportunities.