Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, November 28th, 2020

The Role of Afghan Women in the Peace Process

Civil society and particularly women’s networks played a vital role in support of peace. When the peace process, by design, keeps the wider society at arms length, women lose political access, both due to the seclusion of the talks and the decision to keep the negotiation teams intentionally – and for good reasons – small. But even small teams need diversity, through the inclusion of vocal and competent women and through input from women’s caucuses. The number of women in the negotiations Team is relatively fair and in the supporting committees the number of women shall increase.  Mechanisms shall also be created to ensure that the negotiating teams receive crucial outside input, particularly when discussing victims’ rights and reparations.
Inclusion of women’s rights and concerns in peace processes (as well as those of victims, minorities and vulnerable groups) is, however, a broader issue that goes beyond who gets a seat at the negotiating table. It also includes ensuring that those who have not suffered as much or do not risk to be vulnerable, do not overlook the needs and protections of those who do. While women have played a less important role in the actual conflict in Afghanistan, they are affected by the demobilization of fighters, particularly if many of them come home to a life of un- or underemployment, which raises the risk of domestic violence and greater limitations to their freedom of movement.
Women in Afghanistan often fear they will not be able to do the same. It is feared that Afghan women that they risk losing important opportunities to help set the agenda, by simply assuming their voices will not be heard: that the Taliban will be unwilling to budge, that their rights will be squandered and that men will be unwilling to support their cause or defend their gains. Instead, women could work on strategic alliance building and creating a “valid, coherent and representative message on peace.”
Afghan women activists, and their supporters, can focus their efforts on multiple fronts; ensuring that there are competent and articulate women at the negotiating table and that they are sufficiently supported in their jobs; ensuring that the negotiating teams and their supporting staff are regularly briefed and lobbied by knowledgeable experts and activists; mobilizing communities in support of peace and advocating for their needs; and establishing women not just as a group in need of protections but as vocal advocates and activists for peace in their own right.
Women play an important role in the peace talks with the Taliban; They have been the main victim of the Taliban government. In addition to this, they suffered a lot during the past 19 years from the war in the country. Fair participation of women in the Negotiations team and an inclusion of more women in supporting committees can ensure that the rights of women would be secured in the peace talks and their achievements during the past 19 years would protected.