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I am honoured to be here today and very glad to see all of you gathered to support women human rights defenders. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has asked me to welcome you and to commend you for your important work.
There are so many incredibly courageous women all over the world standing up for their rights under the most difficult circumstances of war and conflict - risking their lives and sometimes even losing them.
Let’s remember Frozan Safi, who was murdered at the age of 29 last November in northern Afghanistan. Let’s remember Hanan al-Barassi, who was killed in Benghazi by 30 bullets that same month. Let’s remember Berta Cáceres, assassinated in her house in La Esperanza, Honduras, in 2016.
These women stood up for land rights, women’s rights, LGBTQI rights and environmental protection. They challenged war economies and existing power structures. They organised grassroot movements and spoke out against sexist and racist discrimination. There are many more such women – well-known and unknown.
It’s important that we honour women like Frozan, Hanan and Berta and that we support those who follow in their footsteps despite the danger. Supporting the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund is one way of doing that. I am very happy that the Women Peace and Humanitarian Fund received considerably more resources last year.
The new funding window that we are launching today with a special focus on Afghanistan, has a specific purpose: offering unbureaucratic assistance to individual women human rights defenders and peacebuilders who are struggling to make a living or who had to leave their countries because of death threats.
Today, Afghanistan is probably one of the most difficult environments for women human rights defenders. The aspirations, rights and opportunities of a whole generation of women and girls are in jeopardy after the take-over by the Taliban.
Therefore, I am delighted that Germany is able to provide 2 million euro for the new funding window to support Afghan women human rights defenders, both inside and outside of the country. It is crucial that we do not abandon these courageous women. Since coming into office in December, my Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has made this issue a top priority; it is one of the central elements of Germany’s new Afghanistan Action Plan.
Let me conclude by assuring you that Germany will remain a steadfast supporter of women human rights defenders across the globe. Please join us in supporting women fighting for peace, equality and a safer world.