Thank you Ambassador Verveer, and to the Co-Chair’s Ambassador Raz and Peirce for this useful and interesting event.
As highlighted by so many already today, recent milestones in the Afghan peace process are a cause for hope. We are now a step closer to peace than perhaps ever before. But we know the remaining journey will be long and difficult.
Norway is following the process closely, and remains willing to assist the parties in their efforts, if they so wish.
While work continues to prepare for the intra-Afghan negotiations- and as the title of this event suggests- this period in particular is critical to ensure the full inclusion of women in the process.
We all know the statistics: When women participate in peace processes, the resulting agreement is 35% more likely to last at least 15 years.
We must draw on every possible resources to improve the prospects for sustainable peace.
Like many in this room we have been a long-term partner for security, peace and development in Afghanistan.
Our military and civilian assistance has had a strong focus on women’s rights, opportunity and equality.
We therefore firmly hope that the negotiations will be inclusive. With a robust representation of women, and with broad-based consultation with women’s groups and civil society in general.
Afghan women have always been the vanguard of promoting peace and understanding. From the grassroots level up to the government.
Progress achieved during the last two decades on human rights, and women’s rights in particular, must be preserved.
There is still much room for progress for women in Afghanistan. But important gains have been made since 2001.
Maternal and infant mortality have been reduced, and the health of women has been improved.
More girls go to school, more young women go to universities.
More women are active in the workplace and in politics.
These prospects will only increase with an inclusive peace process that secures sustainable peace. Therefore, we as international partners, must be vocal and steadfast in our support for Afghan Women as they fight for their rightful place at the negotiating table.
And we welcome this opportunity to add our voice here today.