Afghan women’s political participation essential for peace, say Panjshir leaders

14 Nov 2017

Afghan women’s political participation essential for peace, say Panjshir leaders

BAZARAK - The participation of women in political processes is essential to achieving peace and countering violent extremism, stressed participants at a UN-backed event in Bazarak, the capital of the central province of Panjshir.

Attended by government officials, representatives from the department of women’s affairs and other community leaders, the event enabled participants to underscore the need for greater involvement of women in peace negotiations and political processes in the region.

“Without the involvement of women, political and decision-making processes are incomplete,” said Rahila Attayee, a member of the provincial council, stressing that the absence of women in any peace initiative is a lost opportunity.

Mahmood Hassan, head of Panjshir’s religious affairs department, underscored the importance of women’s rights across the political, economic and cultural spectrums, and encouraged women to learn about their rights and to use them.

Women in Panjshir – as in many other parts of Afghanistan – are faced with challenges such as poverty, illiteracy and gender-based violence. As a result of harmful traditional practices, they are less likely to participate in public life and less likely to enjoy their fundamental human rights. Panjshir, a mostly rural and mountainous province, has a population of about 150,000 and is known for its mulberies and precious stones, such as lazuli.

In the year 2000, the United Nations adopted Security Council Resolution 1325, which specifically brought women’s experiences of conflict into the international peace and security agenda, and called for their participation in conflict resolution and peace-building.

Despite the disproportionate impact of conflict on women, and mounting evidence indicating that women are powerful actors in sustaining peace in their communities and nations, their inclusion in peace negotiations and political processes remains minimal.

During the recently held Global Open Day events across Afghanistan, hundreds of women called for their meaningful participation in political processes, especially in elections as both voters and candidates. They argued that everyone, including women, should participate in elections because elections, in and of themselves, are part of a peace process.

Launched in 2010, Open Days events aim to support dialogue between UN senior leadership and women’s organizations across the world 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 is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps that the UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.