Magazine article UN Chronicle

International Editor of the Year

Magazine article UN Chronicle

International Editor of the Year

Article excerpt

Following are excerpts from Shukria Barakzai's acceptance speech as the 2004 International Editor of the Year, presented by to editors outside the United States in recognition of enterprise, courage and leadership in advancing the freedom and responsibility of the press, enhancing human rights and fostering excellence in journalism.

Even now in the twenty-first century, despite what you have heard, women are struggling in very harsh conditions for their status as human beings and for their human rights in a country that has unique traditions, beliefs and values.

Afghanistan is a country that was forgotten by the people of the world. No country had any interest in it after the downfall of the communist regime. But because of the tragic event of 9/11, the downfall of the Taliban, the existence of Al-Qaida and the support of the international community, the people of the world began to pay attention to this country again.

Twenty-five years ago, Afghanistan was a peaceful country. But now, the inhuman events and conditions that arose 25 years ago--the warlords, aggression, administrative corruption, the kidnapping of children, the smuggling of narcotics, the lack of security, and the terrible economic and health conditions--are growing worse, not better. The people of Afghanistan, especially women and children, are victims of a group of criminals under different names.

Afghanistan could be an example of a new democracy. The existence of 300 free and independent publications, 48 radio stations and 16 television channels in a country where four years ago there was nothing that could be called free speech is excellent news. The modern constitution guarantees equal rights for men and women, with specific articles for the judiciary and legislative process, especially for re-establishing the rights and social status of women and their political participation.

The participation of millions of men and women in the first representation of democracy on election day, utilizing the right to vote, the attendance of more than 4 million children in school, and the interest of the people in free parliamentary elections in a country where there are still guns and gunmen are moments of pride for our people and models for other developing countries.

Of course, without the support of the international community, these successes would have been difficult or impossible, and I want to thank each and every one of them. …

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