Afghan women facing violence despite progress, says UN
(dpa) - Despite some progress in the lives of women life in Afghanistan, much remains to be done and violence against Afghan women still remains endemic, a UN statement said on Friday.
Hundreds of Afghans joined the United Nations at events across the country to call for greater investment in Afghanistan's women and girls as the world prepared to mark International Women's Day on March 8.
In the Afghan capital, women and children streamed into Kabul's women's garden to mark the day with a UN agency fair and a film show highlighting the daily realities of the lives of war-torn country's women and children.
Meanwhile, female counselors from UN agencies were also on hand to provide advice and guidance on key health, education and social issues facing Afghanistan's women.
In the southern city of Kandahar hundreds of women marched for peace while women from the north of the country toured provincial capitals holding public meetings on "Giving Women Voices," with the participation of the provincial governors, women's councils, local police, judges and religious leaders.
"Afghan women have made huge progress over the past six years. Millions of female students have returned to schools and universities," Bo Asplund, acting special representative for the UN secretary general in Afghanistan, said in a statement Friday.
Though the statement said that Afghan women are now striving to play a full and equal part in rebuilding their country as teachers, health care workers, politicians and civil society leaders, much remains to be done.
"Violence against Afghan women remains endemic, too many women continue to die from complications during childbirth and many women remain illiterate," the statement added.
According to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), women represent 27 per cent of the National Assembly in Afghanistan and account for 25.9 per cent of all civil servants.
Only 38 per cent of women in Afghanistan are economically active, and women receive on average only one third the wages earned by men. One woman in Afghanistan dies every 29 minutes due to reproductive health related complications, and the average life expectancy for women is only 44.