New Delhi: - Mrs. Rula Ghani, the First Lady of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, paid a working visit to New Delhi on April 14-18, 2015. During the visit, First Lady Ghani delivered a keynote address at an international conference on “Gender, Community, and Violence,” organized by the South Asian Women’s Network (SWAN) on April 15.

Moreover, the First Lady called on Mrs. Salma Ansari, the spouse of Vice President Hamid Ansari, while meeting with Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, who hosted a dinner reception in her honor and invited prominent female Indian leaders to meet with the First Lady.

At the reception, Minister Swaraj briefly spoke, welcoming the First Lady to New Delhi, while highlighting the strong, historical ties between Afghanistan and India. She congratulated the First Lady on the many achievements of Afghan women, and expressed India’s continued support for their empowerment in the years to come.  First Lady Ghani thanked the Minister for her warm hospitality, and noted the importance of further strengthening cooperation between India and Afghanistan to support Afghan women.

As part of her exploratory visit to learn about opportunities for cooperation between the public, private, and non-profit institutions of the two countries, First Lady Ghani also met with the female members of the Confederation of Indian Industry and the FICCI Ladies Organization. In each meeting, the First Lady briefly discussed her new role in the Afghan society, while noting that she had been using her newly established office to hear from the public, especially women and girls, about the challenges facing them for assistance.

Ms. Lalitha Kumaramangalam, Chairwoman of the Indian national Commission for Women, Professor Lokesh Chandra and Mr. Satish Mehta, the President and Director General of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) respectively, also called on First Lady Ghani. The latter discussed their scholarship aid program for Afghanistan, as the First Lady emphasized that scholarships only be granted to well-prepared, qualified students who could succeed in India’s higher education institutions.

In addition, First Lady Ghani met with a number of Afghan students, who discussed with the First Lady their experience in India, as well as the problems facing Afghan students in the country. The First Lady took note of the issues and noted that she would raise them with relevant Afghan authorities for assistance.

First Lady Ghani also visited the Embassy of Afghanistan in New Delhi and met with Ambassador Shaida M. Abdali and other diplomats. Embassy staff discussed with the First Lady their activities within different departments of the Embassy.

 Ambassador Abdali and Deputy Chief of Mission M. Ashraf Haidari accompanied the First Lady throughout her productive, working visit to New Delhi.

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