Memorandum from International Alert
1. At this critical time in the history
of Afghanistan and for the global community, International Alert
would like to take this opportunity to raise and reiterate urgent
concerns in the context of women's inclusion in the diverse peace
processes that are taking place in Bonn and that will continue
elsewhere in the coming months.
2. The Bonn meeting is a very positive move
towards a broad-based representative government in Afghanistan.
The recent United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on
Women, Peace and Security reaffirmed the importance of the equal
participation of women in all efforts for the maintenance and
promotion of peace and security. We would like to stress the importance
of this commitment and to encourage the central inclusion of gender
concerns and the perspectives of women in such meetings. Women
represent 60 per cent of the population of Afghanistan. In the
1980's, women represented 70 per cent of the teachers, 40 per
cent of the doctors, 15 per cent of the legislature and 50 per
cent of the government workers. Experienced and highly capable
women are available to work for the disarmament of their country
and the formation of a democratic government.
3. Despite the extreme oppression in recent
years, Afghan women have helped sustain their community by providing
essential health care, education, relief and other humanitarian
services in Afghanistan and neighbouring states.
4. By unanimously adopting Resolution 1325
on Women, Peace and Security, the Security Council stressed in
no uncertain terms: "the importance of (women's) equal participation
and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion
of peace and security, and the need to increase their role in
decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution."
5. The Resolution also: "urges Member
States to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making
levels in national, regional and international institutions and
mechanisms for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict."
It calls on all actors involved, when negotiating and implementing
peace agreements to: "adopt a gender perspective, including,
inter alia: (a) The special needs of women and girls during
repatriation and resettlement and for rehabilitation, reintegration
and post-conflict reconstruction; and (b) Measures that support
local women's peace initiatives and indigenous processes for conflict
resolution, and that involve women in all implementation mechanisms
of the peace agreements."
6. There is a broad and global constituency
of concerned organisations and individuals committed to the implementation
of 1325. Positive steps have been made to integrate gender perspectives
in peace building processes. There are many precedents for the
involvement of women at all stages in the prevention and resolution
of conflict, most notably in the conflicts within Northern Ireland,
Somalia and Burundi.
7. Afghan women leaders have spoken passionately
of the need for wide regional representation. Recently in Kabul,
women demonstrated for the protection of human rights, demanding
peace for the country, access to education and involvement in
decision-making processes. It is important that any transition
or future government in Afghanistan includes the perspectives
of those who have shown their commitment and contribution to building
sustainable peace but who have been previously marginalized, moving
beyond the perspectives of those responsible for perpetuating
the conflict and violence.
8. Today the situation in Afghanistan presents
both a challenge and an opportunity, both in terms of women's
protection and their participation in conflict prevention, resolution
and peace building processes. In the past, Afghanistan has not
been given enough attention from the international community,
resulting in unrepresentative extremist groups asserting power
over the larger diverse population and causing immense human suffering.
This is the moment for the international community to take its
stand on behalf of peace, democracy, human rights. A critical
component of this is the full participation of women at every
level of decision making and negotiations towards that end. We
hope that you will ensure that the government acknowledges these
concerns and takes appropriate action at every available opportunity.
Women Building Peace Campaign
30 November 2001