Discrimination against women is not our culture, says Afghan president

‘No compromise on women’s rights’: “Discrimination against women is not our culture, and the Afghan women have never been excluded from decision making”

Ghani in NY

KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani has stressed the importance of women’s increased role in the country’s affairs and implementation of reforms, saying ‘a small minority cannot prevent positive changes.’

Ghani expressed these views during a meeting with female lawmakers at the Presidential Palace on Thursday evening.

First Lady Rula Ghani was also present at the meeting, a statement from the Presidential Palace said.

Razia Sadat Mangal and Kubra Mustafa, members of the Wolesi Jirga and Sadiqa Balkhi, member of the Meshrano Jirga or Senate, spoke on behalf of other parliamentarians.

The lawmakers voiced their support for the unity government’s foreign policy and the reform agenda.

President Ghani said such meetings should continue and argued that the Afghan society should realize the potential of the female population.

“Discrimination against women is not our culture and the Afghan women have never been excluded from decision making.

Currently six women served as Afghanistan ambassadors in foreign countries, the president mentioned, urging the female lawmakers to cooperate with the government in increasing women’s role in various sectors.

The meeting comes days after the Wolesi Jirga or lower house of parliament granted the trust vote to eleven Cabinet nominees, but rejected the only female candidate, Nargis Nehan.

The move to deny the trust vote to Nehan, President Ghani’s choice for the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, angered civil society activists and some lawmakers.

The disappointed activists and lawmakers have demanded of the president to introduce female nominees for the remaining four Cabinet portfolios currently being run by acting ministers.

At Thursday evening’s meeting with women lawmakers, the president said: “I assure you women’s role and participation will increase day by day and the unity government has a clear cut stand in this regard.”

“I assure you as long as I am in office, I will not allow any compromise on women’s rights,” Ghani said.

Referring to the land-grabbing issues, the president said those involved in the crime would be dealt with in accordance with the law.

“There will be reforms in all sectors, a small minority cannot block reforms,” he said, but did not explain who was the small minority.

“We have good and friendly relations with all our neighboring and we are in talks one neighbor,” the president said, in a relived reference to Pakistan.

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