Editor in Chief: Dr. Hussain Yasa Friday, February 24th, 2017

Heightened Role of Women in Peace Process

Afghanistan can only play any considerable role in uplifting the position of women within the country, if women are allowed to participate in different spheres of life. They should have a say in decision-making processes in different social, political and religious institutions. One of the reasons that the different policies and measures carried out by different authorities were biased in favor of the male members of the society was that women were never involved in them, or if they were, their number was too little to have any influence. Therefore, it is necessary that they should have sufficient participation within different processes and their point of view should be given due importance.
Involving the women within different processes is also important because of the fact that they have the potentials to bring about important changes. Their ways of thinking differ and mostly revolve around peace, tranquility and stability. They do not favor instability and war because it has influenced them in the most drastic manner for the last few decades. They have been the victims of extreme violence and injustice. Different sorts of discrimination have been carried out against them and they have suffered an imbalanced role and status. This has further influenced the institution of family and the matters of the society as a whole.
Considering them incapable of playing any prominent role within the social and political decision making processes in a folly. They have the potential and they have proved that as well, whenever they have been given any opportunity to do so. Moreover, their potentials can already be gauged from the nature of the work that they perform within their families and mostly under immense social and psychological pressure. Therefore, keeping them away from social and political lives on the basis of the claim that they do not have the potentials is totally based on wrong assumptions.
As Afghanistan is passing through a very crucial juncture, it is really vital that the women should be made an integral part of peace building measures. They should have a role not only in different development activities but also a central role in any sort of peace process that may be pursued. Since the downfall of Taliban there have been certain improvements regarding the rights, status and role of women and there are fears that those improvements may be lost because of compromises that may be made during peace negotiations with Taliban as Taliban are not ready to accept the heightened role of women. However, if women participate in the process, they may have their point of view and may also have certain pressure throughout the process to ensure that the improvements are not lost, rather there should be more efforts for further progress.
Highlighting the same importance of the contribution of women in issues of national interest and decision-making, the Swedish ambassador to Afghanistan Andres Sjoberg and EU deputy envoy George Cunningham earlier in the week called for the meaningful engagement and inclusion of Afghan women in the peace process. Joining the western envoys, Afghanistan’s First Lady Rula Ghani concurred and said women must be included in the peace process. She said that the peace process will not reach inclusive outcomes if there is not substantial participation by women.
Talking on the importance of Afghan women’s engagement in peace talks, the Swedish diplomat suggested 50 percent of a peace negotiating team be made up of women. While, the EU’s George Cunningham said that a substantial presence of women in the peace process would achieve meaningful negotiations.
However, it is important to see how the Afghan authorities would perceive the role of women in the process. There are many among the authorities themselves who do not see the heightened role of women with comfort as they have been the part of a patriarchal system, therefore, it is very difficult for them to accept that women can be 50 percent of a peace negotiation team, while, on the other hand, it seems difficult that Taliban can agree to that.
Nevertheless, it stands paramount that the role of women and their participation must improve in the process. They, like all the other members of the society and as per the law, have all the rights and the government is responsible to pave the way for proper protection and deliverance of those rights. Though National Unity Government (NUG) had made some huge promises during its initials days regarding women rights, it has not been able to deliver upon those promises at all. Therefore, the situation has not changed for Afghan women, particularly those who have been badly victimized by insecurity, domestic violence and extreme poverty and lack of basic resources. If the government is not able even to solve the most basic issues pertaining to women, it is very difficult to expect that it would perform miracles in uplifting the position of women and involving them in the decision making process in important political and social issues.