By Afghan Women’s Network
Date: 29 January 2010
Occasion: Following the London Conference on Afghanistan, 28 January 2010.
The following statement was prepared and released by the Afghan Women’s Network following the London Conference on Afghanistan on 28 January 2010.
The London Conference on Afghanistan on January 28th on security, governance, and regional cooperation concluded with important decisions on how to resolve Afghanistan’s conflict and governance challenges. Women of Afghanistan will be profoundly affected by these decisions, yet Afghan women were provided no official designation to feed into decisions nor negotiate conclusions In an event that spanned an entire day and included more than 70 countries, only a single Afghan woman was included to speak as part of the official agenda, co-presenting the concerns of Afghan civil society. Only through the help of BAAG in coordination with ACBAR, was she provided a few extra moments to also present a distinct message from the women of Afghanistan on their priorities for the future of the country to the assembled foreign ministers, military representatives, and other participants.
Afghan women will not be silent nor made to be invisible.
The Afghan Women’s Network, supported extensive consultations with Afghan women leaders preceding the London Conference and then provided for four Afghan women civil society leaders to travel to London during the conference proceedings to present women’s perspectives on security, governance, and regional cooperation. The result was a package of concrete recommendations, presented as the statement to the London Conference.
This statement sets out Afghan women’s demand that the proposed reintegration process is not undertaken at the expense of women’s hard-won human rights. It stresses the need to ensure meaningful representation of women in any negotiations and in all governance reform initiatives. It underscores the centrality of women to deepening democracy, combating corruption, and brining peace and stability to the country.
While in London, the delegates used every possible opportunity to spread the message of Afghan women to official delegates to the conference, including foreign ministers, office of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, SRSG to Afghanistan Kai Eide, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai. Their message was picked up by media throughout the world. Personally invited to the press conference of U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, they were singularly recognized at the event by the Secretary for their courage and commitment to human rights.
The final communiqué of the London Conference clearly reflects the advocacy efforts of the Afghan women who traveled to London, and the document includes central priorities of the women of Afghanistan they were charged to represent. This accomplishment is recognized not only for the commitment of Afghan women, but also that of the Afghan government and its international partners to ensure that human rights must be at the heart of any efforts to seek a political solution to the conflict through negotiations and incentive packages directed to the Taliban. The women of Afghanistan endorse this provision and strongly recommend a rigorous monitoring system accompany any reintegration scheme to ensure women’s rights are not violated and that any such violation are aggressively and swiftly addressed as a national security concern.
Also warmly welcomed in the communiqué is the commitment to fully implement the National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan and the newly signed Elimination of Violence Against Women Law. Additionally applauded is the renewal of the Government of Afghanistan’s commitment to strengthen the participation of women in all Afghan governance institutions, including elected and appointed bodies and the civil service, To make these promises reality, the women of Afghanistan call on public decision makers to immediately develop a concrete strategy with meaningful affirmative action policies. Our more specific reactions to the official communiqué include the following recommendations:
A clear agenda was established at the London Conference, including the announcement of an Af-Pak Peace Jirga, a Loya Peace Jirga, and the Kabul Conference. Each of these events provides opportunity for the Government of Afghanistan and its international partners to demonstrate the commitment articulated at the London Conference that reconciliation and reintegration will not take place at the expense of human rights and that women are central to bringing peace and stability to their country. Women must be fully represented at every stage of planning for these events and must be included at decision-making levels at the events themselves. In the months ahead, the Afghan Women’s Network will hold national consultations to prepare the women to participate and to be sure their perspectives are adequately represented in any decisions. We, the women of Afghanistan, are committed to working alongside the Government of Afghanistan and the international community to bring peace and prosperity to our beloved country and all of its people. We stand as full partners for the future of Afghanistan.
We extend our deep gratitude to international supporters who made this opportunity possible for the women of Afghanistan, in particular the United Nations Development Fund for Women, the Initiative for Inclusive Security, BAAG and ACBAR.