KABUL - The inclusion of women in peace negotiations and other decision-making processes has been the focus of a series of discussions currently taking place across Afghanistan, marking ‘Global Open Days’.
Hundreds of women and representatives from government, religious institutions, academia and civil society have taken part in the UN-backed events in numerous regions and provinces.
Since November through January, events have taken place in Bamyan, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Khost, Jalalabad, Maimana and Mazar to reaffirm the critical role that Afghan women play as peace brokers and peace keepers, and why their inclusion in the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations is beneficial to the country.
During a Kabul event recently, participants discussed the opportunities, initiatives and challenges for women’s participation in peace and other decision-making processes in Afghanistan.
“While women’s issues are a priority for us, we are pushing forward to share our views in all other aspects of the negotiations,” said Habiba Sarabi, a participant and member of the Islamic Republic’s Negotiating Team. “We are regularly meeting women’s rights and civil society activists at the grassroots level and at the national level, to ensure women’s voices are heard and brought to the table on a variety of issues, including women’s rights.”
At the Khost event, participants said that women’s participation and voices have never been more crucial and urgent when the country is negotiating for peace and its future. They argued that women’s involvement, in and of itself, is part of a peace process, especially for women victims of the current war.
“Although the small team of women in Doha can protect our rights, I would request for more women,” said participant and activist, Razia Zadran.
For participant and women’s rights activist, Khialo Bawary, the very few women at the Doha negotiating table is a reflection of broader society and the harmful traditions that exclude and undermine women’s contributions.
“Look at the Councils in most of the districts and provinces and see how many women there are,” said Bawary. “The old traditions make it difficult for women to participate.”
Meanwhile, in the country’s north, a participant at an event in Mazar, Mahbooba Sadat, said the stakes are high for women in the Doha negotiations whose outcomes could significantly impact their lives.
“We are concerned that the concessions that might be made during the talks could jeopardize the future of women,” stressed Sadat, a former member of the Balkh Provincial Council. “We must never change the Constitution.”
At all the events, participants also focused on strategies to help enforce women’s rights and increase their participation in public life, such as enlisting the support of “Afghanistan’s traditional gatekeepers, such as religious leaders.”
Launched in 2010, Open Days events aim to support dialogue between UN senior leadership and women’s organizations worldwide on the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and its subsequent seven UN Resolutions. These instruments engender women’s leadership and meaningful participation in political and security transitions, including peace-building.
UNAMA continues to work with advocacy groups and institutions – including religious leaders, youth groups, women's groups and local media outlets – to create platforms, using radio, social media and television, to enable Afghans to engage in dialogue on pressing issues affecting their communities.
UNAMA field offices in Bamyan, Central Region, Gardez, Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar and Mazar organized the multiple events across the country. The Kabul event was organized in partnership with Un Women.