Political rights

A critical moment for women’s political rights in intra-Afghan negotiations and beyond – Afghanistan


by Madhav Joshi and Louise Olsson

A year ago, on February 29, 2020, the Doha agreement was signed between the United States and the Taliban. This agreement describes a process of gradual withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, the commitment of the Taliban to prevent the use of Afghan soil against the security of the United States and its allies, and the launch of intra-Afghan negotiations on the modalities a comprehensive ceasefire and an agreement on the political roadmap. After both sides complied with the release of prisoners as mandated in the Doha Agreement, the first round of intra-Afghan dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban took place in September last year which resulted in product trading rules and procedures.

On February 23, 2021, the second turn intra-Afghan dialogues have started, but the parties face obstacles in starting the negotiations as they have yet to agree on an agenda. Regardless of the end of these peace talks, however, our new article demonstrates the need to explicitly recognize that women’s rights are on the table. Moreover, only a successfully implemented comprehensive peace agreement is likely to significantly improve their situation in a country that has come to mean the politicization of women’s rights.

Conflict, peace process and women’s movement

War is destructive and women suffer a lot during and after war. In this regard, the situation in Afghanistan is particularly imperative. The Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs recently recognized an increase in violence against women over the past year. Violence against women has not diminished in recent rounds of negotiations. In recent research, the destructive nature of the war on women has been argued to further favor social transformation Where empowerment of women because of social disruptions and the increased mobilization of women for positive change.

Thus, in a large number of peace processes, the data show, women mobilize and prepare for change. However, for the pressure from women’s groups to translate into real improvements in women’s rights after the war, substantial reforms and institutionalization are needed. Our research identifies three conditions for such reforms: desirability, will and international influence. These three conditions, in our view, only exist when a war ends with the negotiation and implementation of a comprehensive peace agreement. In this scenario, women’s movements joining forces with other civil society actors can be important partners during implementation processes, as exemplified by Liberia, Northern Ireland, Nepal and the United States. Colombia. In addition, our research underlines the importance of properly recognizing this power dynamic between local actors and stakeholders.

The importance of third parties

This effect on women’s rights is distinct from that of United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), a normative framework that also has an independent and robust effect on women’s rights in our study. Because our study shows the importance of WPS standards on the development of women’s political rights in societies emerging from violent armed conflict, it is imperative to overcome increasing resistance in the implementation of UNSCR 1325.

Most importantly, our study provides abundant and concrete empirical evidence on the imperative of influential third parties like the new Biden administration and the United Nations Security Council to consistently support the inclusion of women in peace processes. For example, an explicit statement of the Biden administration that it will support the inclusion of women in peace processes around the world and not simply protect past advances in women’s rights in Afghanistan could be the key. Likewise, as the pen-bearer on Afghanistan, Norway could play a central role, which is essential if it is to achieve its fundamental goal in the area of ​​women’s rights and gender equality.increase opportunities for women and girls, promote their right to self-determination and foster their empowerment. “

For the UN, but also for international organizations, such as the European Union and the African Union, which seek to promote peace that benefits both men and women in countries emerging from armed conflict, our study has implications for the design of interventions with long-term gender equality goals. Once a peace agreement is in place, our study shows that they are essential in influencing and supporting the government in managing implementation challenges, providing resources and responding to demands for improved rights. women’s policies. Since women’s political rights can only improve after successful peace implementation, international organizations should mainstream a gender perspective into broader implementation processes instead of promoting “gender” as a unique problem that often meets resistance from institutional and cultural perspectives.

The Need for Inclusive Peace for Women in Afghanistan and Beyond

If ending the conflict through an implemented peace agreement is the primary driver for promoting women’s political rights in post-termination periods, then women – from diverse backgrounds – must be included in the process. negotiations to articulate areas of reform that are relevant for their empowerment. Our study here empathetically emphasizes that we need to ensure that women have a say in fundamental negotiation and implementation processes; a point of view adopted by the UN Secretary General. The broader reform processes put in place are more important in improving women’s political rights than specific provisions on women’s rights in an agreement, as our study shows. These ideas have two important policy implications. First, it is crucial to design implementation processes that explicitly take into account the situations and rights of women and men. Second, it means that the inclusion of women during the implementation process is necessary to safeguard progress. The current process of implementing peace in Colombia clearly underlines this argument.

Finally, while the internationally coordinated resistance to women’s rights is grow strongAt the same time, it is essential to recognize that the mobilization of women and gender equality have seen substantial developments over the past century. In Sustainable Development Goal 5, gender equality was defined as a common global concern that is always present in the end of a war. This is what emerges from the peace talks in Afghanistan. Fawzia Koofi, one of the government delegates and vice-president of parliament, said in September that, “We are fighting for a country where everyone will have the right to vote without distinction of sex, religion, sect, etc. Women’s rights and issues must be included everywhere, they cannot be separated ”. Our study strongly supports the urgency of Afghan women’s appeals.