UNIFEM: Peace Is Impossible When Half the Population Is Excluded from Negotiations, Say Afghanistan's Women Activists
Posted on: Wednesday, January 27, 2010
*The following is today's press release from UNIFEM.
London — In the lead-up to the 28 January London Conference on Afghanistan hosted by the UK Government, Afghan women human rights defenders today released strong, specific recommendations on security, development and governance priorities for their country. These recommendations provide the only concrete input from consultation with Afghan women into the key decisions affecting the future of their country that will be set in London by international actors.
Deeply concerned about the exclusion of Afghan women’s perspectives from the dialogue surrounding the London Conference, the statement issued today by the women activists comes as a result of broad-based consultations with Afghan women civil society leaders at the Dubai Women’s Dialogue and London Dialogue over the last week, involving the Afghan Women’s Network and supported by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the Institute for Inclusive Security.
"As the global community knows, nowhere are women’s human rights more at stake than in Afghanistan. Therefore it is of grave concern that women’s voices and perspectives are largely missing from this London conference on Afghanistan’s future. The international community should stand behind the women of Afghanistan and elevate their voices, not barter away their rights in the name of short-term peace and stabilization,” said Wazma Frogh, Afghan Gender and Development Specialist.
Women’s participation in and perspectives on security solutions for Afghanistan are of particular relevance given the way that their rights and freedoms have been a focus of some of the conflict in the country. “Besides the high levels of violence experienced by ordinary women and girls, there has been a very high rate of deadly attacks on women human rights defenders and women in prominent public roles. This makes the determination of the women who have travelled to London to share their concerns and proposals all the more inspiring, and the international community needs to hear what they have to say,” said Anne Marie Goetz, Chief Advisor, Governance Peace and Security for UNIFEM.
The status of Afghan women continues to be one of the worst in the world with 87 percent of them facing domestic abuse. They are also systematically neglected as key partners for conflict resolution, peacebuilding and recovery. “Afghan women have the most to gain from peace and the most to lose from any form of reconciliation compromising women’s human rights. There cannot be national security without women’s security, there can be no peace when women’s lives are fraught with violence, when our children can’t go to schools, when we cannot step on the streets for fear of acid attacks,” said Mary Akrami, Director of the Afghan Women Skills Development Centre.
Pointedly reminding international donors and the national government that women’s participation is critical for sustainable peace, and that women can spearhead efforts to moderate extremism, the advocates demanded that women be included in all security and development processes, including any negotiations and reconciliation programmes involving warlords, the Taliban, and other insurgents. “Women are the single, greatest under-utilized resource in efforts to return stability and prosperity to Afghanistan. Peacebuilding efforts cannot be fully effective when they ignore the expertise, insights, and ideas of half the population,” according to Carla Koppells, Director of the Institute for Inclusive Security. Adds Orzala Ashraf, independent women’s rights activist: “Short-term deals with insurgents will not deliver long-term stability if there aren’t guarantees of women’s rights. In the end women’s well-being is the test of real security and stabilization.”
From the London Conference, the advocates hope to see a clear plan that will provide greater clarity of direction and priorities for the new Afghan administration as well as the inclusion of gender concerns, and a renewed commitment to implement existing commitments to Afghan women. Their specific recommendations include:
- Ensuring women’s representation in peace processes. Consistent with constitutional guarantees for women’s representation, women must comprise at least 25 percent of any peace process, including any proposed upcoming peace jirgas. They must be represented in any national and local security policy-making forums, such as the Afghan President’s National Security Council.
- Guaranteeing that reconciliation protects women’s rights. The government and international community must secure and monitor women’s rights in all reconciliation initiatives so that the status of women is not bargained away in any short-term effort to achieve stability.
- Implementing gender-responsive security policy. All efforts to enhance security in Afghanistan must better serve women.
Archives"Press Room" Home October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 July 2006 June 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 April 2005 March 2005 November 2004 October 2004 April 2004 March 2004 January 2004 December 2003 October 2003 September 2003 June 2003 April 2003 January 2003 September 2002 June 2002 January 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 January 2001
MADRE & Our Partners Make News
Forbidden Talk - Prostitution in the Middle East (Levant TV, October 7, 2014)
Women's Organizations Fighting Against Gender-Based Violence in Iraq (Girls' Globe, October 1, 2014)
We all know about jihadists, but what about those waging an 'anti-jihad'? (Reuter, October 1, 2014)
Breaking the gridlock of climate change negotiations: learning from allies (openDemocracy, September 29, 2014)
Arab and Jewish midwives find a common language (Haaretz, September 12, 2014)