Assistant General Secretary of United Nations (UN) John Hendra has called on the Afghan government
United Nations Calls for Women's Role in Peace Process
Assistant General Secretary of United Nations (UN) John Hendra has called on the Afghan government to increase the role of women in government, with particular focus on involvement in the peace process with the Taliban.
"Afghanistan needs to implement the action plan effectively and we are happy as the UN to support that," Hendra said referring to Kabul's plans for negotiations with the Taliban. "I also think it needs to increase the levels of women engaged in both more formal processes through the peace council but also informally, through civil society at the community level."
For the most part, the peace process has been conducted under the auspices of the High Peace Council (HPC) in coordination with President Karzai. Virtually no progress has been seen since an attempt to kick-start talks in Qatar crashed and burned back in June.
Some of the biggest concerns of Afghan women's advocates and the international community is that progress that has been made in women's empowerment since 2001 could be rolled back in a deal made with the Taliban for a ceasefire.
"I think also in terms of ensuring that there is greater level of resources, both from the government but also the International Community to help empower women to play a much more visible role in peace making," Hendra said. "Because a lot evidence shows that when women are very engaged, then the peace is more sustainable, the peace is more productive and stability is much more lasting."
A meeting titled "Global Academic Women of Peace and Security" was held in Kabul on Saturday. Participants emphasized the extensive growth of women's presence in civil society, politics and the peace process.
Said Muzhgan Mustafawi, Deputy Minister of Ministry of Women Affairs, was present at the meeting. She, along with other participants, discussed focused on the various programs that were being implemented for for increasing women's participation in public processes. The actual progress of many of these programs, however, has come under fire from UN officials.
In addition to involvement in the peace process, Assistant General Secretary Hendra expressed concern regarding the challenges facing Afghan women looking to participate in government and emphasized the need for increased female representation in Parliament.