Well, first, let me welcome the Minister of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and the Disabled, Minister Afzali. Let me welcome the acting Minister of Health, Dr. Dalil. And let me welcome the Director of Gender and Human Rights in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Osman.
I am delighted to be meeting with these women because the Afghan Government has made very important contributions and commitments to the dialogue between our two countries. And at every step along the way, the roles and rights of women has been remembered and included. We know that women are central to long-term stability and our strategy to promote security, good governance, and economic and social development inside Afghanistan.
The United States will continue to target assistance to women in areas ranging from girls’ education, to better health services, particularly maternal health, to protecting women from violence, to enhancing their roles in agriculture and the economy.
I appreciate the fact that many women in Afghanistan are concerned about what reintegration and reconciliation will mean for them. It is essential – I have said this in London, I have said this in the United States, I will say this again at the Kabul conference – it is essential that women’s rights and women’s opportunities are not sacrificed or trampled on in the reconciliation process. I pledged to President Karzai that we would not abandon Afghanistan in its quest for peace and long-term stability, and we will not.
And I make the same pledge to the women of Afghanistan. We will not abandon you. We will stand with you always. I am so impressed and admiring of the contributions that women have made in all of Afghanistan’s history, but particularly in recent history and especially in the last years. And I will be their partner and their supporter as they continue to make improvements in their lives and the lives of their children and families. Thank you very much.