KABUL - Women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in peace processes was the focus of this year’s Afghanistan-wide Global Open Days events, a series of nationwide dialogues around women, peace and security.
“Gender inequality continues to prevail in Afghanistan with regard to women’s participation in peace processes, despite the fact that women are as affected by the conflict as men,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). “Women’s participation in peace discussions is necessary and vital to ending the conflict and ensuring long-lasting stability. Women must be ready to actively participate in and contribute to the peace process, and they must be represented in the negotiating team and consultative bodies on peace.”
At the final meeting of the provincial Open Days consultations in Kabul, hosted by UNAMA and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), 30 gender-equality advocates shared with the UN the most pressing concerns and priorities for peace.
Participants at the event highlighted challenges for women’s meaningful participation in peace processes – as peacebuilders, activists, advocates, mediators and negotiators – as well as opportunities to amplify women’s voices and ensure they are at the negotiating table.
“Not only does peace last longer when women lead and participate in peace processes, but also women have a right to participate in negotiating peace in Afghanistan,” said Aleta Miller, the UN Women Country Representative for Afghanistan. “No decisions on the future of Afghanistan should be made without the full participation of all citizens affected by that future, and no peace process will be complete and lasting without the direct involvement of women.”
The gender-equality advocates, noting that it is common for male family members to discourage or prohibit the participation of female family members in any activities outside the home, stressed how failure to respect, protect and promote women’s human rights and the continued discrimination women face within their communities and families limit their ability to participate in resolving conflict in Afghanistan.
Those in attendance spoke about the need to overcome barriers to women’s voices being heard in peace discussions. Those obstacles, the participants noted, are compounded by general insecurity as well as targeted attacks against women’s human rights defenders, including journalists, activists and high-profile women leaders.
Launched in 2010, ‘The Global Open Days’ events are designed to support dialogue between UN senior leadership and women’s organisations and gender-equality advocates across the world on the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions on women, peace, and security.