Taliban Return: Implications for Women's Rights and Global Security, March 26, 12:30 – 2:30
Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and Women Living Under Muslim Law
Women in power and decision-making, Women and the economy, Human rights of women, Education and training of women, Violence against women, Women and health, Women and armed conflict, Women and the media
SDG 1 – No Poverty, SDG3 – Good Health and Well-Being, SDG4 – Quality Education, SDG5 – Gender Equality, SDG8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG16 – Peace and Justice Strong Institutions, SDG17 – Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Bullying (2016), Harassment (2016), Tolerance of Minority Groups (2016), Child Marriage (2016)
University Women Helping Afghan Women, CFUW-Ottawa, works to learn of issues facing Afghan Women, raises awareness of such, and does what it can to support. Recently it has been very much involved in advocacy concerning the peace negotiations and their significance for women. Several CFUW Members across the country are interested as well. Also CFUW and GWI-NL have an NFA2NFA joint project on the perilous significance of the negotiations for women in Afghanistan. We hope to interest other NFAs in our April webinar.
There is grave concern that the admirable gains made by women in Afghanistan in the last 20 years could be bargaining chips in the current peace negotiations. The betrayal of Afghan women must stop and the international community must stand with them.

Afghanistan currently has a strong constitution that respects Islamic law and that includes gender, ethnic, and minority rights. In addition to their constitution, laws are in place to protect women ie anti-harrassment. There is real fear the constitution will be removed or the Taliban will abolish other laws that protect women. Or they could add laws to restrict them eg a woman cannot be President or cannot be a judge.

Afghans feel they would not have these laws without the support of the international community and have concern for the protection of such after any peace agreement. Afghan women ask that the international community not ignore them, that it continues to support them and raise its voice.

A peace agreement will only be possible if it can be implemented. For this it must have the consensus of women and youth, over half the population.

Peace extends beyond boundaries. Neighbours will be affected by what happens in Afghanistan. They can be inspired or copy the negative forces. Conservative agendas are on the rise and with there a narrowing down of civil society spaces. It is against this backdrop that what happens in Afghanistan is so important for the world.

There is a huge security situation in the country. Many religious minorities are constantly attacked. The Taliban are a worry but only one reality. There are 21 terrorist groups active in Afghanistan. There needs to be an end to war that has taken so much from so many. Today some girls are not able to attend school because of the danger. Some women are not able to work in media because of the danger.

Any peace settlement has to be internationally negotiated with international observers (will be small but need to be linked to larger civil society groups) international guarantees, and technical teams. In Turkey at least 30% of the participants in the main meetings must be women, not just in side events. They can raise their voices for victims and minorities.

How can our countries support? The more voices the better. The women in Afghanistan feel strengthened by our voices and the women negotiators will feel our support. The world must know the rights of women in Afghanistan women cannot be ignored.
The information gained in the session was valuable and confirmed our need to continue our advocacy work locally, nationally and internationally as we can.

CFUW looks forward to its continuing work with GWI-NL and to our opportunities to raise awareness and encourage advocacy by other NFAs in our April GWI Webinar.

Author: Hally Siddons

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