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Afghan Women's Entrepreneurship & Health Roundtable
Remarks by Ambassador Said T. Jawad

Embassy of Afghanistan

Your Excellency Dr. Masouda Jalal
Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky
Honorable Dr. Nadera Hayat Burhani
Honorable Suriya Paykan
Secretary Hoffman
Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the Embassy of Afghanistan. We are honored to have you all here with us today.

Thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedules to come and participate in the Afghan Women’s Entrepreneurship & Health Roundtable.

For many Afghans, one of the most painful memories from the dark days of war and violence in Afghanistan was when a pregnant woman was developing complications, and needed medical attention. They would put her on a donkey or horse for a week long trip over the mountains to Pakistan. In most cases she would die on the way and be buried away from her home and village in an unmarked grave. Today we have peace and stability in Afghanistan, as well as heath care facilities.

Afghan women have made significant progress in securing their rights in Afghanistan. The new constitution of Afghanistan provides for equal rights and full participation of women in all spheres of life. 27% of the seats of our future parliament will be allocated to women. President Karzai is very committed to further enhance women’s rights in Afghanistan.

We are grateful for the assistance provided to us by the United States to help bring about these improvements. We are fortunate to have some of the true pioneers of the enhancement of women’s rights movement in Afghanistan here with us today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are still facing serious challenges in the area of health care and economic opportunities for women.

The Embassy of Afghanistan has organized this round table to address some of the issues related economic opportunities and women’s health care and to develop a plan of action for tackling these issues.

We will have two sessions: one on women’s entrepreneurship and one on women’s health.

Our first speaker is Minster of Women’s Affairs, Dr. Massuda Jalal.

Dr. Masouda Jalal is a prominent Afghan politician and women’s rights activist. She was appointed Minster of Women’s Affairs for Afghanistan in December of 2004. She has been engaged to promote women’s rights and secure economic opportunities for women since 1993.

Minister Jalal is has been very active in the process of building state and civil society in Afghanistan. She ran for the presidency of Afghanistan in the Emergency Loya Jiraga of 2002, and was again a presidential candidate in Afghanistan’s first national election in 2004. Dr. Massouda Jalal is a pediatrician, with extensive experience of working for many international organizations; including WFP and UNHCR as a health advisor. Dr. Jalal also has taught at the Kabul University School of Medicine.

Your Excellency….