Key Remarks by Mrs Manizha Waissi on the Occasion of International Women's Day


Key Remarks of Mrs Manizha Waissi
On the occasion of International Women’s Day
8 March 2023

Honourable Minister Yvett Berry,
Honourable Minister Nicole Lawder,
Ms Toa Takiri, Vice President of Fair Canberra
Ms Sonia DiMezza, MARSS’s Interim CEO
Dr Sunita Dhindsa, MARSS’s Board Member
Distinguished Participants,
Friends of Afghanistan,
Good afternoon and Salam o Alaikum,
Please allow me to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land we are meeting today, the Ngunnawal people. I wish to acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

Ladies, My dear sisters,
Today, as we come together to mark International Women's Day, it brings me great joy to speak to you all.
We gathered today to acknowledge the profound meaning of this day for women globally. I am delighted to offer my warmest regards to women here in Afghanistan, Australia and around the world.
This day celebrates the relentless spirit and resilience of women who have overcome immense hurdles to forge paths of progress and accomplishment.
We honour women from diverse backgrounds and stand united with those who still confront challenges.
The journey of International Women's Day from its early 20th-century origins is remarkable, showcasing great advances in women's rights.
Today, women engage in all facets of life across many nations, yet disparities remain, with projections of over a century needed to close the gender gap.
In Asia and the Pacific, women still grapple with bullying, discrimination, and various forms of inequality and violence.
In Afghanistan, the situation of girls and women are far beyond the common and known problems compared to the rest of the world.
In today’s Afghanistan, women are confronting extraordinary challenges and are subject to strict limitations, stripped of their essential rights to education, work, and self-determination.
The regressions we are witnessing are stark compared to the strides taken in the previous two decades.
As we speak today, over 15 million people in Afghanistan, almost 50% of our total population, are locked at homes, without access to their social life, freedom, and basic rights.
Today is the 986th days that girls are banned from schools, 718 days that girls are banned from universities and there was no single female among the 84,234 high school graduates sitting for university entrance exams in late 2023.
For 986 days, Afghanistan has stood as the only country on the planet where girls are deprived of the opportunity to receive an education, a stark reminder of persistent obstacles faced by its young women.
Since the Taliban's forced takeover of power in Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, we have witnessed a drastic shift from a modern, progressive educational system to one that is deeply conservative and restrictive, influenced by extremist ideologies, impacting the educational opportunities for both boys and girls.
This systematic discrimination against women is comparable to gender apartheid, dramatically narrowing the space for women and girls and depriving them of their fundamental rights and freedom.
It's a moment for us to pause and think deeply about where our society is heading.
If the current situation continues, with the Taliban's rule remaining unchallenged, what will happen to our community when half of its members – our women and girls – are denied education and visibility?
In this third decade of the 21st century, the thought of a society without the active contribution of women is a catastrophe we are facing.
On behalf of my voiceless fellow women of Afghanistan, I urge the international community to recognise that the Taliban’s policies against women and girls amount to gender apartheid, crimes against humanity, and persecution.
In light of this, we call for international protection and eligibility for refugee status for Afghan women and girls who face multiple threats daily with remarkable courage and resilience.

Esteemed guests,
Let's strive for a future where all women can achieve their utmost potential and contribute significantly to society.
I am grateful for your presence in today's significant observance.
Amidst all challenges, the success of Afghan women globally, particularly in Australia, brings us hope. They excel in politics, society, healthcare, arts, and sciences.

Dear participants,
I must acknowledge the efforts made by the Afghan Peace Foundation for organising today’s remarkable event and for their dedication to promoting such critical occasions.
My gratitude also extends to Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services (MARSS) and Fair Canberra for their joint and exceptional work on today’s promotion.
Additionally, I commend everyone here, you the attendees and those behind the scenes for your participation and commitment in today's successful event.
I thank you and wish everyone a Happy Women’s Day!


Last modified on Tuesday, 12/03/2024

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