Empowering women means their involvement in decision-making in the community, according participants at a UN-backed debate in the south-east province of Paktika.
More than 30 people took part in the panel-led discussion – organized jointly by the regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Paktika Youth Society -- including women’s rights activists, young people, community elders, religious scholars, civil society representatives and government officials.
Local television and radio journalists covered the event, including nationally-broadcast Jondoon TV and Shamshad TV stations.
The forum was set up to promote the advancement of women into community decision-making and to facilitate women’s access to their fundamental rights.
Panelists highlighted the importance of women’s involvement in the social, political, economic and cultural life of the province, pointing to the important role of community members and institutions in facilitating women’s empowerment.
Issues such as a lack of awareness about women’s rights, gender discrimination, cultural constraints, harmful traditions were identified as key factors constraining the participation of Afghan women.
Abdul Hakeem, a religious scholar, said that women’s empowerment is about involving women in decision-making both in the domestic sphere as well as in external matters. Mr. Hakeem said that a basic tenet of religious teaching is that men and women have rights over each other.
Bibi Hawa Khoshiwal, Director of the Provincial Women’s Affairs Department, said that the household is often the first step in women’s decision-making. She encouraged women to look for creating engagement opportunities at the community level.
The Paktika Youth Society, established in 2011, works for youth empowerment, campaigns against harmful traditions and for the eradication of violence against women.