Women’s essential role in peace efforts spotlighted in southeastern events
KHOST - The crucial importance of Afghan women’s meaningful participation in peace efforts, locally and nationally, was the focus of two UN-backed events in the southeast capital of Khost province.
The events each drew 30 women from districts across Khost to meet with provincial leaders and discuss ways to empower women in Afghanistan’s southeast region and strengthen their involvement in peace efforts and the national development agenda.
Participants at the events expressed concern that while women continue to be severely affected by Afghanistan’s armed conflict, their contributions to peace are limited to symbolic roles.
“Women make up half the population of Afghanistan and are among the most affected by the conflict,” said one participant from Khost’s capital city. “We want to be included in peace discussions, and we want our voices to be heard.”
In the lively discussions, participants underscored the need for deliberate measures to improve women’s participation in peace efforts and other aspects of Afghanistan’s social and political life. They focused on the need for increased education opportunities and the importance of raising awareness, across the nation, about protecting women’s rights.
Twenty years ago, the United Nations adopted Security Council Resolution 1325, which formally brought women’s experiences of conflict into the international peace agenda and called for women’s participation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
Despite global evidence indicating that women can be powerful actors in sustaining peace, their inclusion in peace negotiations and political processes in Afghanistan remains marginal.
The government of Afghanistan has taken several measures to boost women’s participation in civic and other aspects of the country’s public life. The government has pledged to increase the presence of women in government institutions to 30 per cent by the year 2020. Currently, women’s participation countrywide is far below this target.
Poverty, violence, illiteracy and harmful traditional practices continue to hinder women’s progress in Afghanistan and deprive them of full self-determination. In rural areas, especially, few women participate in the country’s political life or benefit from its public policies; most women in these areas remain marginalized and impoverished.
Afghanistan became a member state of the United Nations in 1946 and signed the United Nations Charter, agreeing to the precepts of promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all, without regard to race, sex, language or religion.
Afghanistan is a signatory to seven out of nine core international human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. This convention, which obliges Afghanistan to ensure that women are not subject to discrimination in any sphere of life, is reflected in Afghanistan’s constitution, national laws and policies.
Organized by UNAMA’s Gardez regional office as part of the Mission’s Local Peace Initiative programme, the events are part of a nationwide initiative to create platforms – using radio, television and social media – for local communities to engage in local dialogues on pressing issues affecting their communities.
In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. 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.