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Jill Follows, UN Observer and member of LWV Fairfax Area
Excitement is building for the United Nations’ 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62). This hugely influential series of meetings and discussions will be held at United Nations headquarters from March 12-23, 2018. The LWVUS will send 20 delegates to observe activities of member states at the UN and side events conducted by NGO’s including the League’s side event titled “Women Political and Business Leaders: Achieving Economic Solvency With Rural Women”.
The League’s delegates will post their summaries of events on the Leagues’ UN Observers Google groups’ page. It is easy to sign up now and follow along with the delegates as postings are added to Google groups during and shortly after CSW62, hopefully some in real-time. Please email Chris Sagona at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up at your earliest convenience.
International Affairs: Spotlight on Afghanistan
The UN Observers also track other relevant events at the United Nations and in local communities throughout the year. Recently the D.C. based Brookings Institute, in cooperation with the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, hosted an event focused on “The New Generation of Afghan Women Leaders”. The panel of speakers, all young and female, currently hold noteworthy positions in the Afghanistan government. They shared their perspectives on the current policies and initiatives of the Afghan government. Although the percentage of women holding elected office in Afghanistan exceeds that of the US (28% vs 19%), the speakers emphasized their hope that its citizens will make peace with the slow pace of transition to a constitutional government and acknowledge their hope that youth and women will expand their influence in policy making positions. Speaker Adela Raz, deputy minister for Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, advocated for the inclusion of privatization in budget discussions. Speaker Neheed Sarabi, deputy minister for policy at the Ministry of Finance had a background in research and analysis and promoted policies that looked for ways to reduce poverty. Speaker Muqaddesa Yourish, Board Commissioner of the Independent Administrative Reforms and Civil Service Commission, spoke about the ongoing attempts to reverse the history of government patronage appointments with movement toward merit based appointments. She addressed the Civil Service Initiatives promoting work safety policies for women and the coaching center for women seeking employment in government. However she also cautioned the audience and media to consider the questions being asked of female policy makers, and try to avoid “boxing in” women to certain issues, otherwise considered women’s issues. Ms. Yourish asked everyone to try and think about the last time any question posed to a male speaker asked him to tell us what he had done for men? She hopes that questioners will craft their questions to allow women in government positions to address all relevant issues, and not just those issues traditionally considered “women’s issues”. Speaker Shaharzad Akbar, senior advisor to the President on High Councils, advocated for the development of a new policy language that focused on uniting her nation and encouraged youth to participate and bring their willingness to invite discussions that has not yet been held at the higher levels of government. The final speaker was Ghizall Haress, commissioner of the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution. Ms. Haress commented on the slow but forward pace of collaboration between the Afghanistan Supreme Court and her Commission. It is noteworthy that Article 21 of the Afghan Constitution provides for the equal rights of men and women.