Afghan women's rights activists demonstrate against a discriminatory law in April 2009.
©Pajhwok Afghan News
Ten years ago, the Afghan government and its international allies pledged to advance women’s rights following the military intervention to oust the Taleban. Millions of Afghan women and girls have seen progress in their lives since 2001: two-and-a-half million girls are enrolled in school, women can work outside their homes and the constitution grants women and men equal legal status.
But many Afghan women now fear their rights will be sacrificed as the Afghan government and its international partners seek a political settlement with the Taleban. The Taleban have an appalling record of human rights abuses both in government and as insurgents. Today, in areas under their control, the Taleban have severely curtailed the rights of women and girls, including the denial of education, employment, freedom of movement and political participation.
Afghan women’s groups have voiced their demand that any peace talks, or “reconciliation” with the Taleban, must not compromise the human rights and well-being of the Afghan people. Sadly, their voices have largely been marginalised.
On 5 December 2011, a high-level ministerial meeting will take place in Bonn in Germany and the peace process will be an important point of discussion. Let’s use this opportunity to call on the Afghan government to guarantee women’s rights and women’s participation in the peace process.
We will deliver your signatures to the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, who will be attending the Bonn Conference on 5 December.
Dear President Karzai,
A vital safeguard to protect women’s rights in the peace process is to have meaningful representation of women at the negotiating table. I therefore urge you to ensure that:
• Human rights are guaranteed and monitored during the reconciliation process and at its conclusion and that abuses are promptly and effectively dealt with.
• Afghan women are meaningfully represented and their concerns fully reflected in all stages of the reconciliation talks, in keeping with UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
• Any agreement must include human rights benchmarks, for instance, increased school attendance of girls; improved access to health care for women; greater ability of women’s human rights defenders to operate in all regions of Afghanistan.
• Reconciliation talks should not result in impunity for violations of human rights and war crimes.