Activists take initiative in organizing community peace events in eastern region
JALALABAD - The full participation of women in all aspects of peace-building was stressed by participants at a series of UN-backed symposiums in Afghanistan’s eastern region last year, leading to several activists taking the initiative to set up their own community peace events.
Suhaila Babur, the head of Kunar’s Department of Women’s Affairs, participated in one of the events last year backed by the Jalalabad regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and has since organized a group of women to meet regularly in the interest of furthering local peace efforts.
In an interview with the UN recently, Babur said that her department has been conducting regular local peace programmes, at the district level, and also hosting broader women’s peace symposiums.
Babur and other interested peace activists attended UN-backed events last year, including three held in Laghman, Kunar and Nangarhar, along with more than 1,000 other participants, most of them women. They gathered to discuss how they can contribute to peace, security and reconciliation efforts.
Speaking at the forum held in Laghman, the Deputy Chair of the High Peace Council, Habiba Surabi, called for the active involvement of women in maintaining peace and resolving conflicts in the eastern region. “The purpose of our visit to Laghman is to encourage women to take part in the peace process,” said Surabi, stressing that any lasting and sustainable peace process must be inclusive and involve women.
Despite the disproportionate impact of conflict on women, and mounting evidence indicating that women can be powerful actors in sustaining peace in their communities and nations, their inclusion in peace negotiations and political processes remains minimal in Afghanistan.
Security Council Resolution 1325 reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflict, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction. It stresses the importance of women’s equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.
Women in the eastern region of Afghanistan – as in other areas of the country – are faced with similar challenges, such as poverty, illiteracy and gender-based violence. As a result of harmful traditional practices, they are less likely to participate in public decision-making processes and less likely to enjoy their fundamental human rights.
Eastern Afghanistan, a mostly Pashtun region, runs up against a rugged border with Pakistan. In recent years, residents have witnessed a significant amount of conflict, as many districts across the east are contested by armed groups opposing government forces.
The events put on by UNAMA in the eastern region last year were part of the mission’s outreach programmes to engage communities on issues that matter to them. At almost every UNAMA-backed event, local media partners not only record the discussion and debate for later rebroadcast, but also create new programmes around the issues that are raised, extending the discussion and creating new opportunities for local voices to be heard.
UNAMA’s media partners in the eastern region, including Sharq TV and Safa Radio in Jalalabad, Zala Radio and TV in Kunar, Alina Radio in Nuristan, and Khyber-Nawokht radio in Laghman, produced a series of radio and television programmes throughout 2017 aimed at improving the welfare of women and encouraging their participation in development, peace and other local initiatives.
UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.
UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.