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On a joint UN “solidarity mission” to Afghanistan focused on women, peace and security, Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem recognized the dedication and hard work of colleagues in the UNFPA Country Office to transform the lives of women, girls and young people.

“Despite tremendous suffering, the resilience of the women and girls I met on this visit gave me hope for the future of Afghanistan”, said our Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem during her recent mission to Afghanistan. UNFPA is “dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Afghan women, laying the foundation for a life of choice and equality. We are making progress, but there is still a long way to go.”  

She noted: “Only when women are safe and empowered to make decisions over their bodies and lives will the country be able to achieve sustainable development and peace.”

The Executive Director was in Afghanistan, together with Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, UN Political and Peacebuilding Affairs chief, Rosemary DiCarlo, and the head of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, as part of an all-women delegation of top UN officials on an intensive two-day “solidarity mission”, focused on women, peace and security. 

Read » Inclusive peace in Afghanistan means ‘women at the centre’ urges UN deputy chief in Kabul

Recognizing meaningful work recognized and prioritizing safety of staff

While in Afghanistan, the ED met with our country office colleagues and applauded their dedication and hard work to deliver for women and girls and young people in the country despite daily challenges.

“I want to thank you for your efforts that have really been a big part of the historic progress made in Afghanistan over the past 18 years," she said. "Your safety and security while you go about such meaningful work is a priority.”


When asked specifically about the UN's strategy on keeping staff safe and secure, she said she expects people not to take chances when it comes to safety. "As UNFPA, we are of course embedded in the UNDSS system," she said. "So, my expectation is you take those rules and regulations extremely seriously. My expectation is you do not take chances or cut corners."

Dr. Kanem also underscored the impact of their work. "You have chosen one of the most difficult jobs, even though it’s interesting," she said. "Your job has consequences, but you change the future for the better."

She encouraged staff members to take care of one another and to take a step back when work gets overwhelming, however. This, she said, will ensure that they can deliver even better. Watch her message below.

UNFPA on the frontlines of GBV battle

“Ending sexual and gender-based violence is our collective responsibility,” said our Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem said during the mission. “It not only affects a woman’s dignity, health and wellbeing but prevents her from participating actively in her community and contributing to peace.” 

UNFPA, she proudly shared, “is on the frontlines of this battle in Afghanistan, and indeed around the world, leading the UN system’s response on the ground. If we stand united in our pursuit of gender equality, human rights and justice, we can prevent this scourge one person, one community, one country at a time.” 

 Family Health Centres are one-stop assistance centres

During the mission, together with the Deputy Secretary-General, Dr. Kanem visited a Family Protection Centre in the Aga Khan Hospital in the Afghanistan province of Bamyan. It is one of more than 100 Family Health Centres that are supported by UNFPA and the Afghan Ministry of Public Health.

Located within both regional and provincial hospitals, the centres offer extensive choices and solutions for women and girls subjected to gender-based violence and lessen, if not eliminate, security risks for survivors and service providers. The centres seek to integrate professional assistance (psychosocial, medical and legal support and referral services into the health sector) and act as a one-stop assistance centre. They provide essential reproductive, maternal and child health services to around 300,000 living in under-served areas.