The US Ambassador in Kabul on Wednesday said his country encouraged enforcement of the law on Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) as essential legal instrument to combat gender-based violence in Afghanistan and end impunity.
In a statement issued on the occasion of International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, James B. Cunningham said they marked the day every November 25 with a 16-day activism against gender violence, culminating in Human Rights Day on December 10.
Established by the United Nations, the day and the campaign provides a global platform for action by governments, organizations and individuals to mobilise attention to the urgent need to end gender-based violence, in all its forms, he added.
“As the father of two daughters, I welcome this global effort to promote opportunity for, and to reject violence against women. An old proverb says that society is like a bird with two wings. If one wing is cut off the society will not function.”
He reiterated that violence against women was violence against family and violence against family was violence against society.
“Wherever it occurs, in my country or elsewhere, violence against women harms our communities and undermines progress in building better societies and lives for all our people,” he added.
The campaign, he said, aimed to encourage increased advocacy and partnership between the international community, governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and local advocates.
This is also the goal of the major recently-launched women’s empowerment initiative of USAID in Afghanistan, PROMOTE.
“We will also need to educate men and boys and critical community leaders to speak out for their mothers, wives, partners, sisters and daughters,” he noted. Adequate legal and justice frameworks need to be created and implemented, he stressed.
“Here in Afghanistan, the law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women is an essential legal instrument to combat gender-based violence and we encourage its enforcement and an end to impunity,” he remarked.
Over the years, Americans have worked with the Afghan government, legal system and civil society to advance women’s rights in Afghanistan and increase women’s access to education, health services, economic opportunities and the political realm, he added.
Great strides have been made in the last decade, he said, adding for example, the number of midwives across Afghanistan has increased from 467 during the Taliban years to about 4,000 today, more than half of them graduates of US programs.
“We have helped train 22,000 female teachers and provided scholarships to 7,000 female students to study at teacher training colleges. We have helped empower Afghan women to become judges, prosecutors, and attorneys, from 184 in 2008 to over 600 today.”
The envoy said the US was committed to preserving these gains and to support for programs that combat gender based violence in Afghanistan.
When women and girls, he said, could live free from violence and were afforded equal opportunities, they lifted up their families, their communities and their nations.