International Support for Afghan Women's Rights: Protecting & Promoting the Rights of Afghan Women . Friday, March 19, 9:00 – 10:30
Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security, Permanent Missions of Afghanistan, UK, US on behalf of the Group of friends of Women in Afghanistan
Women in power and decision-making, Human rights of women, Violence against women, Women and armed conflict
SDG 10 – Reduced Inequality, SDG16 – Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Bullying (2016), Harassment (2016), Building Peace through Women’s Education (2019)
This session related closely to the current advocacy work of our local CFUW-Ottawa group, University Women Helping Afghan Women, to recent national CFUW actions, and to the current GWI NFA2NFA partnership project of CFUW with GWI-NL. It was a powerful session calling on the international community to support the protection and promotion of women's rights in Afghanistan and encourage their safe, equal, and meaningful participation throughout the peace process and beyond.
This unique opportunity brought together UN Member states and Afghan civil society leaders to discuss how the international community can work jointly with women in Afghanistan to effectively support their safe and meaningful participation in the peace process, to protect their rights as guaranteed in their constitution, and to decrease the targeted killings. Prominent speakers included the Permanent Representative of the UK to the UN, the Acting ECOSOC Ambassador of the US to the UN, H.E. Rula Ghani, the Countess of Wessex, and several senior UN officials as well as many members of the Group of Friends of Women in Afghanistan.
It was unanimously agreed the we must work to ensure more is done to protect women’s rights in Afghanistan and they gains they have made. We can work with women peacebuilders and partner with such groups as Cordaid. We must call for a ceasefire and condemn targeted killings. We must require women’s leadership at all levels. Peace means the absence of war and freedom from all forms of violence. The status of women is the status of democracy. Afghan women are capable of speaking for themselves and indeed for the whole nation.
Estonia and Norway share the Security Council focal point for Afghanistan. We must create more space for Afghan women negotiators.
Afghan women have made huge strides. For so many years they were in the shadows. The peace process falls to the community level. We need to ensure protection for the women who put themselves on the front line. We have a duty to listen to them and help them. We must continue to ask them what they need and continue to support the process. We need to be open-minded and agile.
The Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs at the UN called on the UN for greater engagement in Afghanistan. The UN has been on the ground in Afghanistan since 1949. Today the Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons is very much involved, and recently the UN condemned the targeted attacks in Afghanistan and also appointed a Special Envoy to the country. He will confer with regional countries to provide a suitable environment for the negotiations and also facilitate discussion with female religious scholars. H.E. DiCarlo too is calling for more women to participate in Doha.
(I could not do this session justice in the limited space and have sent my article in a separate email to Stacy and Clémence March 19 at 6:47. Sorry!!)
The session offered much valuable information and food for thought on this crucial topic and at all levels.
It will be important that we work with our governments to ensure their support with other members of the international community. The session gave good background material in preparation for the GWI Webinar on Afghan Women on April 24. One of the speakers, Ms Mary Akrami will be one of our 3 speakers. A video of today’s session may be found in time on the Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security website.