I am particularly pleased and honored to intervene here, today, at the opening of this meaningful high-level event on the situation of Afghan Women, which is taking place in the framework of the UN Women, Peace and Security Week.
Allow me to express my gratitude and appreciation to WIIS Italy (Women in International Security), through its President Loredana Teodorescu, and to the Afghan Policy Lab of Princeton University, in the person of its Director Adela Raz, for promoting the initiative and nurturing a constructive and focused dialogue through the networks of women, aimed at putting the voices of women leaders, peace-builders, mediators and grassroot organizations at the center of the stage. We need to hear the voices of Afghan women, listen to them, and act upon.
A special thanks goes to the co-sponsors of the event: the Permanent Missions of Canada, Greece, Tunisia, and United Kingdom to the UN, as well as to the EU Ambassador for Gender, Ms. Stella Ronner Grubaric, the UN Special Rapporteur Richard Bennett, and our Colleagues and partners in the US State Department and OSCE who are in the room today to testify the engagement of the international community.
Italy is deeply concerned about the dangerous compression of individual and collective human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls, who are excluded from political, economic, and social spaces, deprived from their right to contribute to the well-being of their fellow citizens as humanitarian workers, and increasingly exposed to violence and persecution.
We deplored the growing restrictions and we stand with the Afghan people in their demand for equal rights. The international community must consistently and continuously uphold the value of gender equality, access to education and protection from violence in building stable and resilient societies. Their denial harms the future of an entire country, which cannot embark the path of sustainable peace when half of its population is meant to be invisible.
In this spirit, Italy is committed to the full implementation of the WPS Agenda in the framework of our fourth National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, and intends to remain at the forefront of the efforts aimed to identify every possible way to continue supporting Afghan women and girls.
I wish you all, Distinguished Colleagues and participants, a successful session of works.