Happy international women’s day

Ambassador Youssof Ghafoorzai and Kjersti Fløgstad
Photo: Ingvill Bryn Rambøl / Nobel Peace Center

Today, women in Oslo will march in solidarity with their sisters across their world. On this important day, let’s not forget the plight and struggle of women and girls in Afghanistan.

This week international women’s day is marked across the world. In Oslo, thousands of people will be marching the street under slogans of international solidarity. They will be marching for all the women and girls who are prevented from taking to the street to stand up for their rights. This year, as the world is facing multiple crisis, we want to make sure that the struggle and plight of the women of Afghanistan are remembered and supported. Therefore, on the eve of international women’s day, the Nobel Peace Center, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, invited to a special event in solidarity with the women and girls of Afghanistan.

All Afghans have been affected by the crisis that emerged after the Taliban take-over in August 2021, but women and girls are the most affected. They are denied their fundamental, universal, and religious rights, not being allowed to get an education, work, and express their views openly. In many ways, the challenges facing Afghan women are more complicated now than what they were during the late 1990’s a period that no one ever imagined could be repeated.

Womens role in Afghan history

During the history of Afghanistan, respect and admiration for women’s role in society and democracy have played an important role. Afghan women were first able to vote in 1919 and for many decades they contributed to the social, political, economic and democratic development in the country.

Twenty years ago, just after the Taliban had fallen, millions of Afghan girls and boys were enrolled in schools. 70 000 thousand newly appointed teachers were greeting them in extremely provisory classrooms all around the country. Thousands of new children joined every day. And for the girls, this moment was a precious one. Someone found it worthwhile investing in them. They meant something. They had a future.

Fighting for everyones rights

Today these girls are grown, well-educated women who should take part in forming the future of Afghanistan. We can only imagine their disappointment and pain. Among the speakers at the event on 7 March were Fawzia Koofi, who is former deputy speaker of the Afghan parliament, Fatima Gailani, former president of the Afghan Red Crescent Society and former parliamentarian Shah Gul Rezaie. These women and all other women of Afghanistan should be empowered by the international community to play their rightful role to help shape the future of Afghanistan.

Despite the current situation, these women and other strong women of Afghanistan are neither silent nor passive. Both inside and outside Afghanistan they are making their voices heard.

And as they are defending their rights; they are defending the rights of all Afghans. They are also working to help find a solution that leads to a permanent and dignified peace for Afghanistan. They need our support, now more than ever. So let’s support and remember them today – and every day.

Happy international women’s day.