UN Women Executive Director at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan

Date:: 03 October 2016

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will be in Brussels, Belgium on 4-5 October, to participate at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, putting the spotlight on the importance of the social and the economic empowerment of women to achieve lasting and inclusive development in the country.

On 4 October, the Executive Director will be part of the “Empowered Women, Prosperous Afghanistan” side event, together with high-level government officials, including the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, as well as representatives of the European Union institutions and other UN agencies.

The panel of the side event where the Executive Director will intervene will also touch upon the fact that women entrepreneurs are increasingly creating employment opportunities for other women, as well as supporting their own families and communities. Despite this, women business owners continue to be subjected to threats and harassment, and they are shut out of business opportunities. For many women, simply earning a living and controlling their own money is an extraordinary challenge.

The side event will as well be an opportunity to explain how UN Women is working with senior civil servants, high school and university graduates in Afghanistan on developing the skills and gaining the experience that will help them compete in the job market, build their business skills and expand their businesses in international markets.

On 5 October, the conference will gather up to 70 countries and 20 international organizations and agencies, to signal sustained political and financial support to Afghan peace, state-building and development. It will also provide a platform for the government of Afghanistan to set out its vision and track record on reform.

The conference is also expected to raise awareness about the special consideration that needs to be given to the rights of women and children, including measures to prevent violence against women and children and forced marriage, to combat torture or ill treatment as well as discrimination.

Furthermore, UN Women’s Executive Director will take the opportunity to meet with key stakeholders in the pursuit of a more gender-equal world, including Rula Ghani, the First Lady of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; Neven Mimica, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development; and Isabella Lövin, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate of Sweden.

Highlights from the side event “Empowered women, prosperous Afghanistan”

Nazira Rahman, Director of Home Economy at Ministery of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Afghanistan, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcukva, Director of UN Women, Nasrin Orykhil, Ministery of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled of Afghanistan, Maniza Wafer, Co-founder and Chair of the Board, Leading Entrepreneurs for Afghanistan's Development (LEAD)  Photo: European Union
Nazira Rahman, Director of Home Economy at Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Afghanistan, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, Nasrin Orykhil, Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled of Afghanistan, Maniza Wafer, Co-founder and Chair of the Board, Leading Entrepreneurs for Afghanistan's Development. Photo: European Union

Following a keynote speech by the First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka joined a panel discussion on the socio-economic empowerment of Afghan Women. Together with Nasrin Oryakhil, Minister of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled of Afghanistan, Manizha Wafeq, Chair of the Board of the Leading Entrepreneurs for Afghanistan's Development (LEAD), and Nazira Rahman, Director of Home Economy at the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock of Afghanistan, the Executive Director discussed the role of women in advancing the Afghan economy. In her statement, the Executive Director reminded participants that women’s economic empowerment is key to reducing poverty, and building healthy and safe communities in Afghanistan. “When women are empowered economically, they bring independence, security, and stability to their families and communities. These are essential concepts for fostering resilience and building long-term peace.”, she said.

At the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka meets the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, to discuss the strategic partnership between the EU and UN Women. Photo: UN Women/Laurence Gillois
At the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka meets the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, to discuss the strategic partnership between the EU and UN Women. Photo: UN Women/Laurence Gillois

Moreover, four months after the signature of a statement recommitting to the EU-UN Women Partnership, the Executive Director again met with the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica. They discussed the implementation of the EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 as well as possibilities for enhanced cooperation between the European Union and UN Women.

At Afghanistan Conference, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka takes picture with Lyse Doucet, BBC's Chief International Correspondent and Dr Sima Samar, Head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Photo: UN Women/Dagmar Schumacher
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka with Lyse Doucet, BBC's Chief International Correspondent and Dr. Sima Samar, Head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Photo: UN Women/Dagmar Schumacher