Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Afghanistan: Solution for Afghanistan - Involve the Women

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Solution for Afghanistan: Involve the Women


The message from the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan on December 5 was that the world is standing by the people of Afghanistan, looking for a political and social solution to this country's problems and not a military one. Part of the solution is to involve women at all levels of the reconstruction and reconciliation process.

Development, not deployment. This was the central message coming from the c. 1,000 delegates from 100 countries at the end of the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan December 5 - a Conference which would not have been necessary had the west not armed, aided and abetted the Mujaheddin terrorists which were unleashed against the most socially progressive governments the country has known in its history, which were in turn supported by the Soviets. Finally however, after decades of terrorism and instability, generations brought up on hatred and criminal activity, there is light at the end of the tunnel and Afghanistan has, in the words, of German Foreign Minister Westerwelle, "clear and long-term prospects".

These prospects are based upon Kabul's pledge to do more to provide good governance and to fight against corruption while the international community looks forward to 2014 when combat troops will be removed and when finally a process of development, rather than deployment, starts to be pursued.

This new decade of development for Afghanistan will be based upon a reconciliation process founded on three clear principles: the renunciation of terrorism, the renunciation of violence and the respect for human rights. Negotiation and reconciliation will be the key words, as military deployment is dropped and the key players will not be the United States and NATO member countries but very much India, Pakistan, IR Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the PR China, Afghanistan's neighbours.

No process, however, will be successful if it does not involve Afghanistan's women as key contributors at every level of the process as responsibility is transferred to the Afghan people over the next decade. Here, it is crucial that women's rights organizations worldwide network with their Afghani counterparts to ensure their full involvement in the process, defending and protecting gender equality in a country where in the last decades women's rights (defended by the Soviets) were swept away.

UN Women highlights the courage of Afghanistan's women on the road to recovery leading up to yesterday's conference.