On this first day of EuroMUN 2023, the UN Women committee starts the first conference session with opening statements surrounding maternal and natal health care. Besides wishing for a “fruitful” debate with their fellow United Nations member states, most countries highlighted their commitment to reducing maternal mortality rates and improving the quality of healthcare for both mothers and children within the framework of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, several countries, including the United Kingdom and Uganda, highlighted the need for more resources to use in enhancing their nation’s reproductive health care.
Despite the sometimes initial nervousness of the delegates in this EuroMUN Beginner committee, the opening session started with a strong statement by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan highlighting that “women are the pillars of society”. While mentioning “regimes unfriendly to women” and the “shattering of the process due to violence”, the delegate of Afghanistan expresses their wish for a “healthy and fearless motherhood” for women. This apparent strong commitment in favour of women’s rights stands in contrast to recent UN warnings about the large setback regarding women’s rights in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s take-over in August 2021.
Proceeding to the UN Women's first moderated caucus on healthcare providers, Afghanistan stressed the need for the training of more healthcare providers and better healthcare education for both men and women. This seems puzzling considering the current critical situation of women’s rights in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime, particularly with Afghan girls and women currently being prohibited to go to school. So far, none of the other represented UN member states has critically addressed the situation of women’s rights in Afghanistan, rather, we saw general agreement with the points brought up by the Afghan delegation. It is only when the Afghan delegate emphasized that since the Taliban forces have taken over their country they saw the strength of perceiving the international community more as the solution, that a first delegation, New Zealand, expressed disagreement. It remains to be seen what kind of role Afghanistan plays in the upcoming discussions throughout the conference.
- Elisabeth L. Schreiber, World News correspondent at Reuters