EU supports Kazakh programme to educate Afghan women

“Empowering Women in Afghanistan” conference in Astana. [@EUinKazakstan Twitter]

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini on Wednesday (5 September) announced a new €2 million programme that will train and educate Afghan women in Kazakhstan.

​Mogherini announced the EU contribution via a video message to the regional “Empowering Women in Afghanistan” conference in Astana.

As Kazakhstan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Kairat Abdrakhmanov said, since 2010, Kazakhstan has been running a project of educating 1,000 Afghans in peaceful professions such as engineers, doctors, agricultural specialists and nurses.

Under this project, Kazakhstan has provided $50 million of its own money to educate the Afghans but now the EU is expected to join in the financing and focus on educating Afghan women.

The main advantage of the project is that in Kazakhstan, a secular but also Muslim-majority country, the Afghans who come to study feel at home in a friendly cultural environment.

The programme had proven its effectiveness because 100% of the Afghan students who have studied in Kazakhstan return home and three-quarters of them found a job after returning to Afghanistan. Conversely, Afghan students in Western countries tend to remain there.

In his welcoming address to the conference, delivered by State Secretary Gulshara Abdykalikova, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said that the agenda of the conference “puts emphasis on the special role of women in the modern world and their invaluable contribution to addressing many political and social challenges, settling conflicts, maintaining peace and security, improving the life and welfare of the society.”

Nazarbayev reminded that since Kazakhstan gained its independence in December 1991, the country has dedicated sustained efforts to achieve the highest world standards in gender policy and strengthen the role of women in the public and political life of the country.

Kazakhstan has ratified all fundamental international instruments on gender equality, Nazarbayev said.

The president underlined that Kazakhstan, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2017 and 2018, has placed emphasis on ensuring security in Central Asia and Afghanistan. In this process, he said, the empowerment of women is of paramount importance.

“Commending the steps taken by the Afghan government to improve the situation of women in the country and ensure gender equality, we stand for the early achievement of peace on the Afghan land, including through the concept of ‘for Afghans and by Afghans’,” the address said.

According to the president, international meetings such as the Astana conference help to join the efforts of the international community and, taking into account a wide range of opinions, allow for the open discussion of the world’s most pressing issues.

The Astana conference was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan jointly with the European Union, the Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the Eurasian Media Forum.

The event brought together high-level delegations from Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the United States, Uzbekistan, and the United Nations.

Among the various video messages was that of Ivanka Trump, daughter of the US president, who acts as his advisor.

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