SDSN Afghanistan hosted by Kateb University participated in this webinar held on 22nd April 2020 by putting together a one hour Panel Discussion on ‘Afghanistan Peace Process: Role of Women – Opportunities and Challenges’.
Around 100 national and international audiences participated in the session held by SDSN Afghanistan. They were also given the opportunity to ask questions and respond to a poll.
71% of the attendees and participants said that the aftermath of the peace deal with Taliban will undermine the status and rights of women in Afghanistan.
The speakers in the panel discussion were Ms. Jamila Afghani, Ms. Zarqa Yaftali, Ms. Fiona Gall and Dr. Mohammad Musa Jafari. Following topics were under the spotlight;
|Afghan Government’s Stance on Role of Women in the Peace Process|
|Peace Process; Human Rights and Gender Equality|
|Role of CSOs in the Peace Process in Afghanistan with Special Focus on Women|
|International Institutions and Afghanistan’s Peace Process|
Ms. Jamila Afghani
Ms. Jamila is leading Medica Afghanistan which is a women support organization. At the same time, she is a lead volunteer at Women International League for peace and freedom -Afghanistan section since 2015. She is also a member of WILPF’s international board representing South Asian countries. Ms. Jamila has been engaged on UN advocacy issues since 2017, especially UPR, CEDAW, CRC and UNCRPD by development of advocacy briefings, presentations, and shadow reports. Consequently, she has been actively engaged on the ongoing peace talks. She has participated in Doha Intra-Afghan dialogue held on June 2019. Ms. Afghani aims to raise voices of the most vulnerable Afghan women to different advocacy level and enhance localization of women, peace and security agenda.
At the panel discussion, Ms. Jamila spoke about stance of the Afghan government on role of women in the peace process.
Ms. Afghani stated in her speech that despite women being the most affected by the conflict, they remain as minor players in political life and the economy and sidelined in the current peace talks. She believes that Afghan women must meaningfully participate in decisions that directly affect them. Ms. Afghani stated in her speech that women have participated as members of the High Peace Council (HPC) in discussions for a peace agreement, but HPC serves only as a consultative body and aims to raise public awareness rather than a decision-making body.
Criticizing the final list of negotiators introduced by the government of Afghanistan, Ms. Afghani says that only 5 out of 25 negotiators for Intra-Afghan peace talks with Taliban are women. Ms. Jamila believes the absence of Afghan women in the peace talks means failure of political correctness. The absence of women and their voices in the process she thinks casts doubt on the type of peace that these talks would bring to the country.
Finally, Ms. Afghani emphasizes that more inclusive peace process and effective gender-related provisions in any future peace agreements are important. She suggests that pushing for the inclusion of women and gender issues in the formal peace process, which is lagging and has been criticized, would be a strategy to harness not only the Taliban’s acceptance of women’s legitimate concerns but also their willingness to sustain the momentum of future intra Afghan negotiations.
Ms. Zarqa Yaftali
Ms. Zarqa Yaftali is the Director of Women and Children Legal Research Foundation.
At the panel discussion, Ms. Zarqa spoke on ‘Peace Process; Human Rights and Gender Equality’.
Towards the beginning of her speech, Ms. Yaftali defined the peace process in Afghanistan by stating that peace process should not mean an end of war between US and the Taliban; rather, the objective of peace process in Afghanistan should strongly consider stability, security and justice and accountable and inclusive government without compromising human rights values and women’s rights.
Ms. Zarqa further elaborates that Afghans do not want to sacrifice their freedom and civic rights for peace. She stated in her speech that any steps taken towards sustainable peace would require that justice and preservation of human rights values are ensured; otherwise, any attempt would result in failure.
In addition, Ms. Yaftali states that Afghan women hold highly of the values, rights and freedom they have achieved over the past two decades; therefore, Taliban’s restrictive views on freedom, employment and education of women must not compromise these achievements.
Finally, Ms. Zarqa suggested in her speech that a mechanism of oversight needs to be established in order to monitor human rights values and women’s rights practices post peace agreement with the Taliban.
Ms. Fiona Gall
Ms. Fiona is the director of ACBAR, one of the most searched jobs seeking website in the country. She has more than 20 years of experience in humanitarian and development programs in Asia specially Afghanistan, India and Pakistan and more recently in Africa in emergency relief and rehabilitation, health, disability and gender in challenging environments.
Ms. Gall spoke on role of CSOs in the peace process with special focus on women.
In her presentation, Ms. Fiona began by stating that over 2600 Civil Society Organizations and 2500 NGOs have been registered in Afghanistan over the past 20 years. Out of the 30,000 staff off of 152 member NGOs with ACBAR 25% are women. Out of 80 local NGOs, 22% are led by women. Ms. Gall affirms that women have started to play increasingly strong roles within Afghan societies and the government. Based on her presentation, most promising thing is that women account for 24% of civil servants, 28% of parliamentarians, 30% of teachers and at least 1 woman works in 74% of the health facilities.
Ms. Fiona appreciated CSOs for having filled the gaps in government services and met the humanitarian needs admitting the slow development. She reasoned that in a conflict situation, efforts made in one year of war are equal to efforts made in 20 years of peace. Ms. Fiona is hopeful that growing understanding of the Afghan population about the world around them will ensure women’s presence and importance in the peace negotiations. Also, Ms. Gall strongly believes that the solution to the future of Afghanistan is Afghan women.
Dr. Mohammad Musa Jafari
Dr. Jafari is the current Vice Chancellor of Kateb University for Academy Affairs. He is also Chief Editor at Kateb Quarterly Journal and Editorial Board Member at Negah-e-Moaser and Pejuhan Scientific Quarterly Journal.
Dr. Jafari spoke about ‘International Institutions and Afghanistan’s Peace Process’.
Dr. Musa’s main point of discussion revolved around the fact that a comprehensive peace process agenda requires inclusiveness and international community's support in order to have a strong voice against Taliban in peace negotiations. Dr. Jafari further stated in his speech that the success of peace process in Afghanistan will be a great achievement for international order; therefore, international actors have a vital role to play.
Rationalizing his stance, he added that the weakness of Afghanistan government would be dangerous in the peace negotiations with the Taliban. One country and two presidents explain the extreme political crisis. On the other hand, widespread corruption, poverty, unemployment and insecurity have undermined the legitimacy of government. Under this circumstance, Dr. Jafari questions the distinguished achievements of the government in negotiation with the Taliban. How could a failed state persuade Taliban to accept the current democratic political system? Dr. Jafari strongly believes that we need the support of international institutions to guarantee our pluralistic democratic values in peace negotiations.
As a final note, Dr. Jafari stated in his speech that peace process must be supported in the context of ensuring the political, social, economic and cultural rights for all Afghans.