Human rights central to Afghanistan solution

Progress for Women Is Progress for All

Human rights central to Afghanistan solution

January 2010

The communiqué issued at the close of the London Conference on Afghanistan clearly reflects recommendations and advocacy efforts on behalf of Afghan women. This was achieved after four women’s civil society leaders, supported by UN Women, travelled to London to lobby official delegates. Their message was that women’s human rights are critical to achieving stability and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan - The London Conference

The conference was aimed at agreeing a way forward for Afghanistan and was hosted in London by the UK Government on 28th January with representatives from over 70 countries. There was no official delegation for Afghan women despite the criticality of women’s participation in achieving reconciliation and moderating extremism. On the eve of the conference, a set of concrete recommendations was released by the Afghan Women’s Network as a result of extensive consultations with civil society leaders. Full details of these recommendations, which covered women’s representation in the peace process and the need to ensure that reintegration does not happen at the expense of women’s rights and a gender-responsive security policy, can be found in the statement released prior to the conference.

Four Afghan women civil society leaders travelled to London to lobby official conference delegates. Their visit was sponsored by UN Women and the Washington-based Institute for Inclusive Security. Coming from a country where 87% of women face domestic abuse and prominent women are subject to deadly attacks, their brave campaigning was picked up by the international media. They were invited to the press conference of the US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, who recognised their courage and commitment to human rights. GAPS UK (Gender Action for Peace & Security) was able to organise a meeting at Westminster the day before the conference to hear from the women’s mission.

When the conference closing communiqué was released there was evidence that some of the women’s key messages had been incorporated. There was a commitment that human rights must be at the heart of any efforts to seek a political solution to the conflict. Additional promises included full implementation of the National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan and the newly signed Elimination of Violence Against Women Law, and the strengthening of women’s participation in all governance institutions. Afghan women’s groups warmly welcomed these inclusions and called for a concrete strategy to be developed. Full representation of Afghan women is needed at decision making levels at the future Jirgas (councils of elders) and conferences mapped out in London to demonstrate that women are central to bringing peace and stability to their country.

Follow the link to read the Afghan Women’s Network’s response to the closing communiqué in full.

The Afghan Women’s Network has thanked its international supporters, including UN Women and the Institute for Inclusive Security, for making the women’s mission to the conference possible.

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