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Dear Minister Kaag,
Ambassadors, Excellencies, Colleagues,
Dear Nahid Shahalimi,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Some of us just walked over from the Security Council where a debate was held on the current situation in Afghanistan.
Those of you who followed the meeting live or on webcast may have noticed an unusually high number of female speakers today. The Netherlands wished to underline the importance of gender equality on International Women’s Day.
I would like to applaud this powerful gesture. Too often, the rights of women are trampled on. As the recent #metoo debate has demonstrated, this phenomenon doesn’t stop at national or cultural borders. Even Western societies have quite a bit of learning to do when it comes to the equal and fair treatment of women.
The public discourse in recent months has changed the conventional wisdom that the ill treatment of women always happens somewhere else but not in our midst.
Today, I am pleased to provide another challenge to conventional wisdom. The documentary we are about to watch, “We the Women of Afghanistan: a silent revolution” by Afghan-Canadian filmmaker Nahid Shahalimi, who is here with us today, takes a powerful look at the situation of women in this war-torn country.
During the film, we will meet strong, fearless women who have taken matters into their own hands to improve Afghan society in various sectors: politics, media, the arts, education and small business.
The film is a testament to the basic human condition of striving and thriving. And it provides a case in point that social progress will never be possible if 50% of the individuals in a society are excluded from making decisions on their own.
I would like to thank my colleagues from Afghanistan and Canada for being here with us today and for lending their support to this project.
We are particularly honored to welcome the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development of the Netherlands – Sigrid Kaag – to this screening.
Without further ado, I give the floor to Minister Kaag. I wish everyone an interesting and instructive experience watching the film and following the panel discussion afterwards.