Check Against Delivery
Germany is very proud to co-sponsor today's Arria meeting on the role of women in the Afghan peace process. For Germany, the Women, Peace and Security agenda is at the top of our priorities throughout the two years as a member of the Security Council. Just 10 days ago, we had a signature event of Germany's Presidency of the Security Council focusing on sexual violence in conflict.
We deeply believe it is crucial that women play a more important role in politics, in preventing and managing conflicts. When you look at the COVID-19 crisis that all of our countries are confronting these days, the countries that have managed well, like my own country, Iceland, Finland or New Zealand, are all run by women.
Also in Afghanistan, we have made tremendous progress. The First Lady is very active in Afghanistan. We are very grateful to you and your government for sending [Ambassador] Adela Raz to New York. But of course, women must play a more important role overall in Afghanistan. They have to have a seat at the negotiating table with the Taliban. The fact that we have an all-women panel today from the U.N., from government, and international partners in society actually speaks for itself and sends a very strong signal.
Women's rights have been promoted over the years thanks to the reforms that have been implemented by the Afghan government. We have a very vibrant women's rights movement, but we have to admit it's largely limited to urban settings. There is still a long way ahead to achieve full, equal and meaningful participation of women in daily life in the whole country. They continue facing significant challenges when it comes to education, economic opportunities, and health care just to say a few areas.
When you talk to Afghan women, there is an unprecedented fear of going back to a time when especially women and minorities were denied their freedom. So our solid ambition is that any outcome of peace talks and Intra-Afghan Negotiations should build upon the achievements of the last 19 years, most notably on reforms of freedom, non-discrimination, human rights, and education. In this respect, what is enshrined in the [Afghan] constitution must not be changed.
We believe that we can only achieve general sustainable peace and a negotiated inclusive political settlement owned and led by the people of Afghanistan, including its women. Women must be equally and meaningfully represented within the negotiation team. We will hear more about that from Dr. Sarabi. We have highly appreciated the steps taken so far to move the process forward. We have had some substantial progress regarding the exchange of prisoners, but now we urge all parties to take the final step to start Intra-Afghan Negotiations.
Such a very long, arduous process needs united international support. Germany will continue to support Afghanistan in this endeavor. We are very happy to work with partners, including our co-penholder, Indonesia, the US, Norway, Uzbekistan and Qatar. Already [last July] in Doha, Germany helped to get Afghan women around the table in informal talks.
The United Nations will need to continue playing a central role in this process. This is why I am also very happy that SRSG Lyons will also brief us a bit later today.