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President Karzai Congratulates Women on International Women's Day - Excerpts from President's Speech
Released by the Office of the Spokesman to the President Islamic Republic of Afghanistan


Presidential Palace, Kabul - H.E. Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, congratulates today the women of Afghanistan and the world on the International Women's Day.

Addressing a celebration of Women's Day Ceremony organized this morning by the Ministry of Women's Affairs in the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, the President said:

Women's Day
I am very happy that we are celebrating Women's Day in Afghanistan today. During the last three years, the Afghan women saw tremendous progress and strengthened their position in society. Afghan women showed that they know their rights and that they can make use of them in the best way possible in accordance to our religion and culture.

Achievements in Women's Rights
Today, Women play an important role in Afghanistan: In the last two Loya Jirgas, women's participation was in many ways more active than men's. 42% of voters taking part in the Presidential Elections were women. We have 3 women Ministers in the Cabinet; we have women Deputy Ministers and women as Heads of Departments in the government institutions. According to our Constitution, at least 25% of the seats of our Parliament will be occupied by women.

Early Marriages
Of course, women in Afghanistan still encounter challenges. Girls are married in their childhood or married off to resolve disputes. These practices are cruel, against our religion, and no longer acceptable.

Afghanistan Is Every Afghan's Home
Afghanistan does not belong to the four or five major ethnic groups. Smaller ethnic groups, such as Qirghiz and others, have as much right to this country as the four or five major ethnic groups. The people of Afghanistan are the owners of their country.

Child Kidnapping
Ever since terrorists were defeated in Afghanistan, they've tried to harm our people in whatever way possible. But every time, they have lost and we have overcome the threat. The biggest defeat of terrorists in Afghanistan was the elections in October 2004. One horrible method that terrorists have used is to kidnap our children from the streets. This is a heinous crime and it is the Government's responsibility to fight this crime and ensure the safety of its people. I have sent the Minister of the Interior to Kandahar today to investigate the recent cases of child kidnapping in Kandahar and the demonstrations by our people yesterday.

Commitment to Administrative Reform
The solution to our problems lies in bringing real reform in our administration, and in this regard, I will not accept friendships, connections, or any other considerations. I won't have regard for whether people have supported my elections campaign. By voting for me as their President, people are expecting me to improve their Government for them and I will not stop at personal or political connections to do this


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