Afghanistan

Afghan women’s engagement in peace benefits society as a whole – UN envoy

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KABUL - Afghan women’s meaningful engagement in peace efforts, and in all areas of society, will benefit Afghanistan as a whole, said UN envoy Deborah Lyons during a panel discussion that brought together many well-known Afghan women to address peace.

Lyons, together with Shaharzad Akbar, Chairperson of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Right Commission, moderated the virtual event organized by UN Women and chaired by its country representative, Aleta Miller.

The outstanding panellists included Hasina Safi, Minister of Women’s Affairs; Habiba Sarabi and Sharifa Zurmati, members of the negotiating team for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; Mary Akrami, Executive Director of the Afghan Women’s Network; and Mariam Safi, Founding Executive Director of the Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies.

In opening remarks, Lyons said it is important for Afghan women across the country – and especially for young girls – to see a peace process that has representation from the full population.

“It’s important for Afghan society overall,” she stressed, referring to a global study indicating that the critical factor in the stability of any country is that women are engaged and supported.

“It’s important for us to recognize the collective role that Afghan women have already played in the search for peace,” she said. “Dealing with issues that impact all of society, that impact women, will benefit all of Afghanistan.”

The ‘Crisis & Opportunity’ panel today – part of a UN Women series of online discussions focused on the impact of COVID-19 and key issues in Afghanistan – addressed women’s meaningful inclusion in Afghanistan’s peace efforts. The goal of the discussion was to facilitate constructive debate around Afghan women’s concerns, priorities and demands related to peace efforts and what avenues and strategies are available to support their meaningful participation in any peace process.

“Well-functioning networks throughout Afghanistan, where women can participate nationally and at the local level, are critical,” said Lyons, who is the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

“Using these networks to prepare for the many discussions around peace allows Afghan women to be peace advocates, experts and advisers, and most importantly full participants in the negotiating teams in the peace process,” said the UN envoy, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

“The call for Afghan women’s greater inclusion in the peace process, and for a peace settlement that allows the whole of society to benefit from the gains achieved in the last decades – all of this will be critical,” she said. “There is incredible support for women’s participation in the process and for a peace agreement that brings about a just society for young boys and girls in Afghanistan.”

Lyons called attention to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and said the peace process for Afghanistan will be “precedent setting” in that it will demonstrate the full engagement of women.

“I want you all to know that the United Nations considers this to be one of our top priorities, and we stand with the people of Afghanistan in this process,” she concluded.