WLUML Letter to the Canadian Govt.: Support of Afghan Women’s Demands

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The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca

The Right Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne

 Philippe.Champagne@parl.gc.ca

The Right Honourable Minister for International Development, Karina Gould

Karina.Gould@international.gc.ca

The Honourable Ambassador for Women Peace and Security Jacqueline O’Neill

Jacqueline.Oneill@international.gc.ca

The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

Maryam.Monsef@parl.gc.ca

The Honourable Senator Mobina S.B. Jaffer

mobina.jaffer@sen.parl.gc.ca

The fall of the Taliban ended one of the 20th century’s cruellest regimes – one that deprived Afghan citizens, particularly women, of their basic human rights. Afghanistan has faced immense challenges posed by the ousted Taliban’s ongoing clandestine attacks and assassinations on innocents. Despite this, the nation has developed a constitution, and step-by-step worked to build the basic structures for representative democracy. With the support of the international community, including more than 40,000 Canadians, Afghan citizens have built schools, clinics, and other basic services. It has also enabled for the restoration of war-torn and the creation of new political and civil institutions, including the Ministry of Women and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.

Moreover, Afghans and particularly women’s rights advocates, have developed a thriving civil society, ensuring women’s active presence in public life as high government officials, teachers, doctors, lawyers, intellectuals, artists, and advocates in the public sphere.  Having endured life under the Taliban and other warring political factions for decades, Afghans have developed a profound appreciation of the importance of human dignity, equal citizenry, and fundamental human rights. The Taliban’s response to citizens’ support for such principles has resulted in the assassination of its critics, including many women’s rights advocates, journalists, and female members of parliaments, as well as attacks on schoolgirls and destruction of property including setting fire to girls’ schools. Their terrorist attacks have claimed tens of thousands of lives, physically handicapped and injured many more, both physically and psychologically. They have destroyed villages, impoverishing communities, deepening devastation and prolonging a sense of insecurity. Clearly, Afghan citizens are tired of 40 years of continuous war and yearning  for long-lasting peace.

Achieving durable peace requires robust efforts by all parties to build trust, confidence, empathy, and a spirit of reconciliation between the diverse political forces and the general public. This absolutely requires the meaningful inclusion of all segments of Afghan society in the peace process, most notably women and ethnic and religious minorities, demographics that have suffered most under the Taliban. The early stage of negotiation between the Taliban and the US government, which excluded the elected Afghan government, women, and civil society representatives, set the process on a less than ideal start. While people of Afghanistan desire peace and an end to the violence, understandably, Afghan civil society, particularly women’s and human rights advocates, are worried about the possibility that their fundamental rights will be traded away in favour of a narrow security agreement with the Taliban. However, despite claims of having revised their political and (distorted) religious ideologies, field-based research reports from organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, UN human rights agencies and Afghan civil society groups, indicate otherwise. The Taliban’s lack of commitment to human and civil rights is evident by their increased levels of para-militarized and terrorist violence, being used in a cruel and bizarrely misguided effort to gain greater leverage during the peace talks regardless of the cost to human life.

A durable peace cannot be achieved through the barrel of guns and the return of the Taliban’s ideology. We have already experienced the Taliban’s extreme violence, particularly against women, and observed their misguided gender ideology during their rule in the 1990s and now in the areas that remain under their control. Long-lasting peace is only possible with the inclusion and meaningful participation of the voices of moderation, respect for human rights and guided international norms.

The Canadian government is a global champion of women’s rights and gender equality. Its foreign affairs and international trade are guided by a feminist foreign policy imperative. We are proud that the Government of Canada appreciates the differential impact of armed conflict on women and understands the important role that women play in preventing conflict from escalating and in  bringing about lasting peace. We the undersigned believe now is the time for the Canadian government to lead the charge, and mobilize the international community to stand with Afghan women and support the building of firm foundations for peace in Afghanistan; by using every means possible with policy, diplomacy and advocacy to create an environment that unequivocally enables representatives of all of Afghanistan, including women, human rights advocates, civil society organizations, representative of victims of violence,  and ethnic and religious minorities, to be part of the peace talks. The reconciliation environment must be cultivated, and Canada and the broader international community must ensure that the gains made in the last 19 years through blood and sacrifice are not lost. These gains have come at a great economic cost to Afghanistan and to the international community, but more importantly, at the cost of the lives of many Afghans, Canadians and members of the international mission to Afghanistan.

Clearly, there is no military solution to be had; all parties must come together under the auspices of the UN, with the application of Resolution 1325 mandating meaningful inclusion of women in every aspect of the peace process, and in the spirit of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We ask the Canadian government to act in accordance with its own unequivocal gender equality guidelines and to support human rights through its international policy by supporting the rights of Afghan women, religious and ethnic minorities, and civil society. Appeasing the Taliban by bartering away the considerable gains of the last 19 years, including citizens’ rights outlined in the current Constitution, will undermine the emerging Afghan democracy and can never lead to sustainable peace. We urge the government of Canada to seek appropriate channels for reconciliation and support the internationally sanctioned framework under the auspices of the United Nations to bring about sustainable peace, to allow Afghan citizens and their elected government to bring about national reconciliation and take the steps to expand their young democracy.

 

Homa Hoodfar

Interim-international Director

for

Board of Directors

Women Living Under Muslim Laws

 

Lauryn Oates

Executive Director

Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

www.cw4wafghan.ca

E: ExecutiveDirector@CW4WAfghan.ca

 

Nuzhat Jafri

Executive Director

https://www.ccmw.com/

 

Sarah Keeler (she/her)

Community Engagement Coordinator

Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
E: Community@CW4WAfghan.ca
www.CW4WAfghan.ca

 

Penny Ellison

President

Montreal South Shore University Women’s Club

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

 

Dr. Sarwat Viqar 

President

Centre Communautaire des femmes Sud-Asiatiques/

The South-Asian Women’s Community Centre,

Montreal, Canada

https://www.sawcc-ccfsa.ca

 

Contours: Voices of Women in Law

Faculty of Law, McGill University,

Montreal, Canada

 

Susan Ross

President

Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW)

National

 

Sara Wright

McGill Muslim Law Students Association

McGill University

Montreal, Canada

 

Marie Troudsell

Co-présidente

Canadian Federation of University Women

Sherbrooke & District

Quebec Canada

 

Kathryn Wilkinson

President

Canadian Federation of University Women

National

Toronto, Canada

 

Reem Abdul Majid

President

McGill World Islamic and Middle East Studies Student Association (WIMESSA):

McGill  University

Montreal, Canada

 

Linda Sestock

President

Montreal Lakeshore University Women’s Club

Quebec, Canada

 

Professor Yasmin Jiwani

Communication Studies

Research Chair in Intersectionality, Violence & Resistance,

Concordia University

Montreal, Canada

 

Alia Hogben

Founding member and former Executive Director

Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW)

Kingston, Canada

 

Sally Wishart Armstrong, C.M.

Independent writer and Journalist

Toronto, Canada

 

Kaleem Siddiqi, Professor

School of Computer Science and Centre for Intelligent Machines

McGill University

Montreal, Canada

 

Shelley Z. Reuter, Professor

Department of sociology and Anthropology

Concordia University

Montreal, Canada

 

Vrinda Narain, Associate Professor

Faculty of Law,

McGill University

Montreal, Canada

 

Azam Khatam, PhD.,

Urban Environment,

Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies

York University

ISA RC 32 Regional Representative for the Middle East and West Asia

Toronto, Canada

 

Gada Mahrouse, PhD, Simone de Beauvoir Institute,

Concordia University

Montreal, Canada
Sherene H. Razack, Ph.D

Distinguished Professor

Penny Kanner Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies

Dept. of Gender Studies,

University of California

/University of Toronto

 

Barbara Heron, PhD

Professor

School of Social Work

York University

Toronto, ON

 

Dr. Emer O’Toole

Associate Professor of Irish Performance Studies

School of Irish Studies

Concordia University

Montreal, Canada

 

Ariane Brunet

Co-Founder of the

Urgent Action Fund

for Women’s Human Rights

Montreal, Canada

 

Tanya Fitzpatrick

Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ

 

Judith Ritshie

University Women’s Club Montreal

Quebec, Canada

 

Susan Ross

University Women’s Club Montreal

 

Professor Robert J. Currie

Schulich School of Law,

Dalhousie University

Halifax, Canada

 

Ilea Tant

University Women’s Club Montreal

 

Natasha Bakht

Full Professor, Faculty of Law

University of Ottawa

Ottawa, Canada

 

Linda Sestock

Montreal Lakeshore University Women’s Club

Quebec, Canada

 

Amanda Ghahremani

International Lawyer & Consultant

Canadian Partnership for International Justice

Research Associate at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute,

Concordia University

 

Penelope Simons, PhD

Associate Professor, Faculty of Law

University of Ottawa

Ottawa, Canada

 

Jo-Anne Wemmers, PhD

Professeure titulaire, École de criminologie

Centre international de criminologie comparée,

Université de Montréal

Montreal, Canada

 

François Larocque

Professor, Faculty of Law,

University of Ottawa

Ottawa, Canada

 

Pascal Paradis

Executive Director

Lawyers Without Borders Canada

 

Philippe Tremblay

Senior Legal Advisor

Lawyers without Borders Canada

 

Dr. Narda Razack, Professor

School of Social Work

S880 Ross Building

York University

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

 

 

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