It is clear that the paucity of women in political leadership positions in a society accounts for their absence from the formal decision making positions including the peace table. It is clear, as many studies have proven, women are globally marginalized at all levels of public decision-making, and Afghniatana is not left out of this trend. For a traditional country that is particularly plagued by armed conflict, Afghanistan is widely known for masculinising the public space including political governance. As a result, women in Afghanistan are either is formally excluded from peace processes or they just play symbolic role in the peace process. This causes them to be singled out from playing any distinctive role during and after conflicts in the country, but they suffer from the conflicts both during the conflicts and the post conflict impacts.
How can government involve women in the Peace Process?
The lessons learned in countries like Colombia and Nigeria show that increased political representation of women both in government and decision-making points of the peace machinery enhance the peace process. But, inclusion of women in the political decision making processes including the peace process, is a social issue that in the past have acted as the main barrier to women inclusion in decision making issues in the society. To overcome this social issue, the government shall realize its commitments in terms of women empowerment and women inclusion in decision making processes. This requires a social perception change in terms of the societal notions and ideologies that under-gird the role perception and construction of women as
Inferior members of the society, a second gender doomed to lower status to the men. Such dominant traditional perception that perceives women as inferior or even the second gender in the society always paved the way to victimization of the women in the society. Therefore, these societal notions and ideologies under-gird the role perception and construction of women as ‘victims only’ in any social issue including the conflict situations, has always helped to fuel their exclusion from political and social decision making processes including the peace processes. What we learn from this approach is that lack of inclusion of women in the political and social decision making processes not only leads to the failure of the decisions but victimize the women too. Further, it vastly limits the resources and chances of the success of such processes nearly to fifty percent, as women form nearly half of the population of the society.
Women as Agents of Peace
As mentioned before, women have almost suffered during the course of the history due to negative social perceptions to their roles. These roles have always been identified and institutionalized in the society with the social perception support. Now, it is time to redefine the role of the women in the society including the political decision making processes. And it is not an easy taks, especially in a traditional society like Afghanistan. So, changing the social perception requires a holistic approach at individual and social levels; families play the most significant role in this regard. Of course, educational institutions are one of the most influential institutions in terms of forming the social perception in any society. To do so it is necessary to study the initiatives of other countries, especially the successful ones. And elaborate how the significant variables that can explain the perception that more women in politics would enhance peace building can be included in the Afghan political decision making.
The core findings of the studies on the role of women in peace building show that:
First, women often articulate conflict and peace in different ways to men based on the ethic of care which defines their femininity. Second, women are victims of armed conflict; they are also agents of peace. Third, in partnership with men, women make peace building more effective than if there are few or no women. Fourth, women are active peace agents (as reconcilers and community builders) at the informal levels in their communities and they can be used for reconciliatory roles in the peace process – that is to break down gender dualism which perpetuates conflict. Fifth, given the failure of male dominated politics to prevent and manage violent conflict, women need to be encouraged to come into politics as women so that they can bring their own values to bear.
Therefore, involving women in politics and governance on an equal basis with men would enhance the peace process in conflict-affected societies in like Afghanistan. In order to involve women in the social and political decision making it is not only necessary to change the social perceptions about women’s role in the society but also requires a strong political will to realize the women empowerment commitments of the government in Afghanistan in order to change the women to active members of the society and agents of peace in the country.