Upholding Afghan Women's Rights: What the US and allies must do now, March 23, 10:30-12
Feminist Majority Foundation and Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
Women in power and decision-making, Human rights of women, Violence against women, Women and armed conflict
SDG5 – Gender Equality, SDG16 – Peace and Justice Strong Institutions, SDG17 – Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Bullying (2016), Harassment (2016), Tolerance of Minority Groups (2016)
It relates to work in CFUW-Ottawa, across CFUW, in a NFA2NFA joint project with CFUW and GWI-NL and with interests of other NFAs.
One of the 4 women on the 42 member negotiating team in Qatar joined diplomats and civil society leaders in this superb session that asked the tough questions. We are at a crossroads in Afghanistan. Does the international community abandon the Afghan people and its own sacrifices over all these years or does it stay the course to preserve democracy in the country and the rights and gains made by the Afghan women.

There are 5 areas of discussion between the Taliban and the Afghan negotiators – security, political issues, legal issues, development and the stakeholders. The Taliban wanted to put all under the title of Islamic Rights but that will not be accepted. All Afghans want peace and they must talk about these difficult topics but there is a red line. The recent Moscow meeting was disappointing in that only 1 of those present was a woman and yet the international community stressed little of this fact.

The constitution is strong and it is that that upholds women's and minority rights. It need not be replaced as amendments could be an option to deal with other issues.There is an agreement in place between the Taliban and the US, but the Taliban have not lived up to their agreement concerning terror and a ceasefire. The deal has to be re- calibrated and the UN is well positioned to play a major role. A deal should not be rushed. Such a deal will not result in lasting peace nor fulfill the necessary goals. Not only must the talks be Afghan led and Afghan owned but there must be a consultation and engagement of the allies. Many have stressed the commitment to protect Afghan women's rights in any agreement. The Taliban's belief in Islamic Jurisprudence is a critical issue and its clarity could be a red line .

The meetings in Turkey in April need to include Afghan women in a meaningful way. The rights of women and minorities need to be fully protected, key elements of the constitution agreed to and terrorism renounced.

The biggest fear Afghan women have is to keep their hard won rights. The international community needs to work together. Naysayers must hear of the progress made in Afghanistan. Sixty-two % of the
population is under 25. They have a future. They need to be part of where we go. We want the fighting to stop but the end must lead goto a sustainable peace. The alternative is not acceptable to anyone. The narrative must be around what Afghans want. The withdrawal must be responsible so there is no more bloodshed.
Members need to be encouraged to urge their governments to work with the international community to ensure women play an active and meaningful role in the peace negotiations, that their rights and those of minorities as guaranteed in the constitution are upheld, that there is a permanent ceasefire and that the international community ensures a robust monitoring of any agreement.

Members need to raise awareness of the issues and encourage their NFAs and governments to advocate how they can.

Author: Hally Siddons

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