The visit took place the week prior to the start of the Afghan New Year. To mark the new year, President Karzai is expected to announce the first Afghan districts and provinces to start Transition. This process puts Afghans in the lead, with the aim to have Afghan National Security Forces leading and conducting security operations in all Afghan provinces by the end of 2014.
The group, led by Ms. Palwasha Kakar, Deputy Minister of Women Affairs, met with representatives from national delegations to NATO, as well as members of the International Staff and International Military Staff.
The visit underlined the fundamental principle that the protection of human rights - including women's rights - represents an essential driver towards lasting stability in Afghanistan.
The visitors and NATO officials exchanged views on progress made so far, including support for the mainstream implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security. They also underlined a mutual commitment to continue their cooperation. By increasing awareness of women’s rights, women gain access to the social, economic, and political aspects of their society.
Speaking in an interview during the visit, Deputy Minister Kakar stressed the importance of “long-term cooperation between Afghanistan and NATO” on the issue of women’s rights. Dr Stefanie Babst, Acting Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy echoed this point. “NATO will remain committed to support and protect Afghan women’s rights,” she said.
On 18 March, the group participated in a forum discussion on the gender dimensions of security organised by the International Security Information Service/Europe in Brussels, Belgium.
NATO's Public Diplomacy Division organised the visit as part of its Afghan outreach programme.