On 7th March 2019, The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) of Afghanistan and UNDP jointly celebrated International Women’s Day 2019 with a National Conference studying the status of women in Afghanistan.
UNDP’s Afghanistan’s Access to Justice (AA2J) project supports Afghanistan’s justice sector institutions financially and technically.
However, in a break from the usual, this year’s conference adopted a new way of doing things. Instead of the usual routine of speeches and side events, the event was divided into two parts. In the first part, a research competition was held, with the theme being the status of women in Afghanistan. A total of 60 research topics from different researchers were received. Judges from academia evaluated the research, while UNDP provided technical and financial support to the process, with the three best researchers being awarded prizes.
During the second part of the conference, senior government officials, including the Minster of Justice, the Minister of Education and the Deputy Minister of Women Affairs discussed the status of women in Afghanistan, and the improvements in their own departments. Following this, the four winning researchers were asked to present their findings on women’s status in Afghanistan.
Fariha Easar, a social and women’s rights activist, and one of the researchers of the conference, said: “This is the first time we have celebrated International Women’s Day in an innovative and new style, paving the ground for Afghan youth to conduct research on women’s status in Afghanistan.”
The event was concluded by a speech from the Deputy of the Ministry of Justice in Social Affairs, Dr. Zakia Adeli, who congratulated the researchers, and thanked UNDP AA2J project for its technical and financial support.
Overall, the conference was judged a success, with a total of 200 participants from governmental institutions including many high-ranking officials, CSOs, Academia, International organizations and UN agencies. Following the conference, a booklet consolidating the 15 best research topics will be published.
This initiative is part of UNDP’s Access to Justice project and is supported by Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC). It started in April 2016, and works to build the capacity of Afghan justice sector institutions and to ensure access to justice for women, children, prisoners and detainees.