A study by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit says the role of Afghan women in the peace efforts has remained largely symbolic and weak despite their participation in national peace efforts over the last years.
The study, titled “Women’s Participation in the Afghan Peace Process,” closely looks at the perception people have about women’s participation in national peace efforts since the establishment of the High Peace Council, and to what extent this participation matters.
This case study presents the findings from 77 qualitative interviews with women and men in Kabul, Bamiyan, Balkh, and Nangarhar provinces. The subjects were selected to represent the Afghan population as widely as possible while ensuring the security of the research team.
The study found that women’s participation in peace efforts is vital to sustaining peace in Afghanistan, and that it requires an active role from the government and the international community in supporting women’s seats at the table and their meaningful participation.
The study also found that the main barriers to women’s political participation was the prevalence of society-based violence against women, ideological barriers and cultural norms.
Arguments used against women’s political participation are often religious, but findings from the interviews with religious scholars showed that there is no religious restriction to women participating in the peace efforts.
Many respondents expressed their fear and distrust about the Taliban and their concerns about the international community’s lack of commitment toward women’s rights and women’s participation in the peace process.
Regardless of participation in many platforms for peace, like the National Jirga for peace, women still lack meaningful participation, decision-making power, and equal rights.
The study asked the Afghan government to work on a National Priority Program (NPP) on women’s political participation with clearly defined goals and objective as well as resources and funding to address the challenges that women are facing across provinces
The government should actively support women’s meaningful participation in national peace efforts and should guarantee no less than 33% of women on the negotiation team.
The government should involve women at the leadership level of the HCNR where they would have decision-making power, the report said.