There is no future of Afghanistan without women: UN must uphold women’s rights in addressing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

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This year marks the 21st anniversary of United Nations Resolution 1325, which calls for the equal participation and involvement of women in peace and security efforts. Yet Afghan women continue to be excluded from peace and other processes concerning their country. This at a time in which the country is facing its worst humanitarian crisis yet.

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Afghanistan Section demands immediate attention and action on the part of the United Nations concerning the crisis in Afghanistan; and that all processes and steps to address this crisis include the voices of Afghan women from within and outside the country.

Harassment, intimidation, threats, attacks, and targeted murders of human rights defenders, and particularly women’s rights defenders, have been on the rise in Afghanistan – particularly over the past year. Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in mid-2021, the situation has worsened and thousands of people have fled the country or attempted to leave, fearing violence, persecution, and the loss of basic human rights. Peace activists, women’s rights activists, journalists, intellectuals and professionals, local staff of embassies, and other civil society members have been specifically targeted and killed during this time because of their work and because they challenge the cultural and gender norms, and also the political views of groups like the Taliban.

Moreover, there is massive displacement – the third largest in the world – of people within and from Afghanistan. This displacement has been occurring for decades and amidst continuous war, conflict, and natural disasters across the country. People are enduring a devastating economic crisis while living under the rule of a military regime. Massive political, economic, and social pressures and disruption have caused a protracted conflict and humanitarian crisis. This crisis has manifested through food insecurity, corruption, poverty, and civilian casualties and harms.

Women have been and continue to be particularly at risk. The gendered impacts of the current crisis are not being considered, and women are being denied the right to participate in key forums and processes pertaining to refugees, humanitarian aid, and peace.

Despite Afghanistan signing the 1325 resolution, there is no apparent mechanism in place that protects Afghans, especially Afghan women, and their interests.

We at WILPF Afghanistan urge the United Nations to reverse the damage and neglect that has been committed towards Afghanistan. There are grants in place for Afghanistan, but no clear mechanisms for how these will reach Afghans and through which channels. This is a matter that is time-sensitive and we cannot waste any more time while people’s lives hang in the balance. People require humanitarian aid to survive and with the approaching winter, the economic situation will only deteriorate further. This is not an ‘emerging crisis.’ People are suffering through this crisis now. There must be serious attention and focus given to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan followed by clear and effective steps and actions.