Afghanistan: "One Month in Afghanistan: A Step Backwards for Women in Afghanistan"
The suspended parliamentarian and many other female parliamentarians from the upper and lower houses of parliament have been repeatedly physically assaulted, verbally abused and threatened by many male parliamentarians on and off the Parliament floor. They have stood against all female parliamentarians and nothing has been done about it. None of these men have been suspended or sanctioned. Why was the Parliament quiet on these occasions? There should not be different rules for the male parliamentarians and female parliamentarians of Afghanistan.
Two female journalists were murdered in Afghanistan is less than one week.
Two female journalists have been murdered within a week’s time and yet after two weeks from the incident there is no response or reaction from the government and law enforcement institutions to identify the murderers.
Afghan journalists, both men and women, trying to represent the voice of the Afghan people, risk kidnapping and murder on a daily basis. Extremist elements are especially vigilant against female reporters. Women have become much more active in Afghanistan’s independent media since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Between 31 May 2007 and 5 June 2007, the so-called unknown assailants murdered two female journalists.
Murder of two schoolgirls in Lugar Province
On 12 June 2007, unknown armed motorcyclists opened fire on a group of schoolgirls from Bibi Fatima High School in Pul-iAlam, capital of Lugar, as they were on their way home after school. Two schoolgirls were killed and six were wounded.
To ensure women’s public participation and progress, women need security
Progressive women and girls continue to be threatened and are facing the fear of being murdered every day in Afghanistan. While security is important for all Afghans, the killing of women and girls can have serious implications on other women’s public participation. If the issue of the lack of security for Afghan women and girls is not addressed, fear and intimidation will take its toll. Although the women will continue their activities, but creating an atmosphere of fear and threat will affect the whole process of democratization and good-governance. Therefore we ask the Government of Afghanistan and International Community to take serious note and to initiate the necessary investigation to address the issue mentioned above and the recent attempts to curtail the rights and public life of Afghan women.
In conclusion, the consequences of no attention to the intimidation of women’s public participation will call into question the whole government and international community’s commitments to ensure women’s equal right in Afghanistan.
We recommend that the law enforcement institutions including the police, security and judicial should take serious consideration of the maters and set up a clear and effective mechanism to protect the women activists as they seem to be specially targeted by the anti-women forces and meanwhile it is recommended to seek for preventative measures which can stop an incident before it happens.
The Afghan Women’s Network, the largest women’s rights network of women and human rights organizations in Afghanistan, envisions an Afghanistan in which all members – women, children, and men – participate equally. The members aspire to create an Afghan community which values, respects, and encourages the tremendous capacities of women and their contributions to Afghan culture and society.
21 June 2007
On 3 June 2007, NATO representatives and Afghan women parliamentarians and representatives from civil society met in mutual recognition of the important role that both Afghan women and NATO must play in building sustainable peace and security in Afghanistan.
This meeting was a follow-up to the Inclusive Security: A Road Map for Afghanistan workshop in Brussels, held from 24 February to 2 March 2007, which brought together high level military and civilian NATO personnel and Afghan women to recognize and promote the critical role women play in security and building democracy.
The caucus of Afghan women called for this follow-up meeting in order to develop a relationship with NATO inside Afghanistan, to demand inclusion in consultation processes in order to work together towards peace and to demand that NATO take the well-being of women into consideration at all levels of security activities, both strategic and operational.
The NATO representatives suggested utilizing PRTs to incorporate a gender policy into NATO’s mandate in Afghanistan. The mission of PRTs, or Provincial Reconstruction Teams, is to bring both security and development in the provinces of Afghanistan. The women dimension is not adequately reflected in PRTs planning and operations. Jointly, NATO and Afghan women can try to make PRTs more aware of the importance of contacting women’s organizations and bringing the women dimension to the planning programs.
At the operational level, PRTs will attempt to fulfill this new role through the Japanese Program for NGOs, which funds small scale projects for NGOs and communities for up to $80,000 per project and which NATO implements. PRTs will be advised to actively work with women’s organizations in developing these small-scale projects.
At the strategic level, at the PRT Steering Committee in Kabul on 7 June, NATO will ask for explicit gender policies from each PRT. PRTs have to learn to think in terms of gender and gender equality. This avenue offers a possibility to work for women’s equality and rights within the context of NATO. This is a very far-reaching achievement on the part of Afghan women seeking to form an enduring relationship with NATO and it is proof that their voices are being heard - in part.
NATO focuses on military activities and planning. Their priority is to bring security to Afghanistan. Afghan women demand that security have a women dimension. Afghan women are not asking for more short-term projects. They want security - inclusive security. Although the priorities of Afghan women, Afghan people and NATO seem to be one and the same, the Afghan people still do not know exactly what NATO is doing in Afghanistan.
Afghan women represent at least one half of the population of Afghanistan. They want to be informed of what NATO is doing for the security of Afghan people, particularly Afghan women. They demand a voice in security and development. A voice in development is not enough. Development is only sustainable with security. In addition to having NATO working for Afghan women’s rights, Afghan women want to work with NATO for peace and security in Afghanistan.
We think that your PRT commanders should not develop a gender policy alone. We propose organizing a round table with the Ministry of Women's Affairs, your PRT commanders, AWN, and possibly GTZ and a few other relevant actors we can discuss at a later date, to discuss exactly how the PRTs should go about incorporating gender policy into their strategy and operations. This cooperation, in addition to cooperation with community-based organizations, is imperative to the success of the PRTs efficiently incorporating gender policy into their strategy
The NATO-Afghan women partnership will continue to be strengthened as each side continues to understand the interests and expectations of the other.
The next meeting of the NATO representatives and Afghan women parliamentarians and representatives of civil society will be in July.
By Audery Roberts
3 June 2007
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