Afghanistan and Pakistan: How Women Can Make the Difference?

On February 8, 2012, Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg MEP, together with the European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS) and Women Entrepreneurs Social Think Tank (WESTT) organized a roundtable discussion on Afghanistan and Pakistan: How women can make the difference?

Held at the European Parliament, this discussion brought together representatives from the region with members of European Parliament and civil society experts. Speakers included H.E. Homayoun Tandar, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the European Union and Belgium, Fozia Manzoor, First Secretary of the Embassy of Pakistan to the EU, Belgium and Luxembourg, Madi Sharma, Founder of the Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank (WESTT), Jessica Zimerman, Coordinator, Parliamentarians Network for Conflict Prevention, and Thijs Berman MEP, Chair of the delegation for relations with Afghanistan. 

Panelists and participants agreed that women can – and indeed do – play a positive role in social, economic and political life in South Asia. Fozia Manzoor, argued that women's participation in social and political life in Pakistan is often underestimated and underreported. Jessica Zimerman, PN Coordinator, focused on the positive impact women parliamentarians of the region can play by passing gender-sensitive legislation, leading by example, and representing women’s interests in international conferences and negotiations. Madi Sharma, on the other hand, suggested that a vibrant media and civil society can play a significant role in advancing gender equality at the local level.

While women’s right's developmpents must be driven by local forces, the EU can do much more to play a supportive role. Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg highlighted the recently passed European Parliament resolution on women in Afghanistan and Pakistan as one such measure. Thijs Berman, Chair of the European Parliament delegation to Afghanistan, concluded the session by suggesting that the EU should also contribute to fostering women-focused finance and entrepreneurship in the region.

For more information, click on the following links to download the invitation and press release from the event. 

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