Jakarta (ANTARA) – The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) needs to make joint efforts to narrow the development gap among its member countries, said Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi.

“Some member states are grappling with widespread poverty, of which 21 of the 46 least developed countries are OIC members,” she remarked in the transcript of her speech at the OIC 15th Summit in Gambia on Saturday, which is posted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on its website.

Retno further emphasized the importance of deeper private sector engagement in the OIC and proposed fostering more trade deals and investments to achieve this goal.

In this context, Indonesia will host the 2nd Indonesia-Africa Forum in Bali in September. The event is expected to encourage participating nations to tap into potential economic cooperation.

In her speech, Retno also underlined the importance of empowering women and providing broader access to quality education for the sake of actualizing inclusive development in OIC member countries.

She said the organization needs to place women-related issues as one of its priorities, including promoting women’s education rights in Afghanistan.

“Women in Afghanistan and other parts of the world deserve equal rights, and the issue of women should be mainstreamed in the policies and activities of the OIC,” she stressed in her speech.

In a bid to support inclusive development in Afghanistan, Indonesia has offered scholarships for Afghan women and girls, and shared best practices on madrasa curricula with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Indonesia has also delivered 10 million doses of the polio vaccine for Afghan children, Retno added.

She called on the OIC to take more actions for a broader impact in Afghanistan.

“The challenges we face are unprecedented,” she affirmed. “However, by nurturing unity and solidarity among us, we will solve those challenges for Palestine and all OIC member countries.”