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Reiterating Voices from Afghan Women
1. About Afghan Women’s Network
Afghan Women's Network has over 3500 individual members and 140 women's organizations in its membership. Afghan Women's Network has active and considerable presence in Kabul, Herat, Balkh, Kandahar, Bamyan, Paktia, Nangarhar and Kunduz, and is also active through its member in other provinces of Afghanistan. Afghan Women's Network works as the umbrella for its member organizations.
After the incident of 9/11 and fall of Taliban regime, Afghan women once again struggled to make historic contributions to enable better environment for half of the population as well as for contributing in the development of the country. In the past 17 years Afghan women have worked hard and emphasized for their inclusive participation as well as their role as decision makers. Women have watched the slow progress in sectors of good governance, rule of law and peace processes and have raised credible concerns and provided key solutions for their meaningful and equal participation.
Afghanistan has been in the center of discussion of global policy makers in the past 17 years. International community and Afghan government have meet several times in the past decade to discuss the development of the country, measure the progress and agree on better mechanisms and approaches to improve specific sectors. Follow up Tokyo Conference in 2012 and London Conference in 2014 , Brussels Conference on Afghanistan October 2016 .
As the Afghan government leaders, representatives of 50 countries and international organizations are expected to participate in the third Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Kabul on Wednesday 4 October 2017 to follow 2016 Brussels Conference development assistance pledges as well as discuss the commitments made by Afghan government in terms of fighting against corruption and seeking international community’s assistance on government’s priorities, AWN through this statement would like to reiterate it is call on Afghan government and international community on women empowerment.
3. Current Situation
Women and Good Governance
Women’s inclusion and effective role in good governance in Afghanistan has been fairly slow and low. Women’s participation has improved within government structures which include women in the cabinet, parliament, senate, provincial councils, ministries and embassies.
Women and Rule of Law
Afghan Women have number of achievements related to rule of law. Women welcome the Afghan Attorney
General’s recent decision in turning the EVAW Special Attorney Office to a Deputy Attorney role. At present 6 percent of prosecutors are women. Women have noted the historical move of President of Afghanistan for introducing for first time as female judge for the membership in the Supreme Court High Council. 8% of judges are women . Afghan women believe women play a major role in bringing peace and security in Afghanistan. Women’s participation in Afghan National Security and Defense Force has improved.
Women and Peace Process
AWN welcomes another major change in HPC and APRP role and responsibilities where number of women with expertise and peace building knowledge were introduced.
Women and Aid Effectiveness
Afghan government and International community have played a major role in the past 17 years for enabling platform for women empowerment. Improvements to women’s life in various fields are directly linked to projects and programs that have been funded by international community. Women believe the allocated aid have helped women’s participation in elections, contribution in government institutions, and civil society organizations.
4. Ongoing Challenges
Women and Good Governance:
I. We are concerned on the latest developments where women cabinet members and provincial governors have been replaced by male counterparts. While we believe in reform is essential, we are concerned that the NUG has once again shrink the space for women’s participation in decision making roles.
II. Women still have low representation at the provincial and district level. In most provinces, women are never consulted on important provincial discussions and decisions.
III. Protection and safety of women working in key positions across the country is ongoing challenges that have already affected women’s participation.
IV. A massive program for rural and urban development Citizen Charter was launched prior to the Brussels conference. In Women Empowerment side event, the President announced that implementation of Citizen Charter will be done with equal participation of 50 women and men. Up to date, there is not information available on the progress of this new strategy and role of women.
Women and Rule of Law:
I. After the first female judge for the Supreme Court High Council was rejected, it is disappointing to see that government did not introduce another female judge and accepted the wrong decision of the parliament.
II. After appointment of female to Afghanistan Attorney General office violence against women deputy, this post is still not filled by another competent woman. Delays in appointments in key positions are seriously affecting the support these institutions need to provide to women.
III. In 2016 up to date most inhumane incidents of violence against women have occurred. From all the cases, there are no reports available on arrest and prosecution of perpetrators. Women access to justice is still a major issue.
Women and Peace Process:
I. Since the recent appointments of new members at HPC, women roles and contributions are still not clear. There is no coordination mechanism established by HPC and women representatives to collaborate and work with women outside HPC in relation to peace building.
II. The status of women in provincial peace councils is not yet clear. There is limited access to information in relation to provincial peace councils and how many women will be assigned.
Women and Aid Effectiveness
I. Short term projects implemented in the past 17 years did not have sustainability. While some of these projects touched upon important issues such as ending violence against women, strengthening women’s role in local governance and security sector, with the completion of projects, the initiatives impact and sustainability have also vanished.
II. Women organizations functioning in the past 17 years are shrinking and closing down due to limitation in access to funds and budgets. This affects the contribution such as awareness raising, advocacy and civic education initiatives at the local level. The largest USAID fund Promote even does not have a specific funding to support the sustainability of women organizations. Majority of women organizations are still not aware on the implementation and impact of Promote project for Afghan women.
5. Key Recommendations
1. We call on National Unity Government to maintain it is commitment in appointment of competent and qualified women during replacement and reform exercise.
2. Women holding leadership roles have show proven changes in the field assigned. We call for an increase in number of women in cabinet and provincial and district governors’ roles.
3. We call on NUG especially the President to reaffirm it is commitment in engagement of 50 per cent of women in implementation of Citizen Charter as well as to assigned relevant implementers to share information on the role of women in regular basis.
Rule of Law
1. We call on NUG to introduce a female judge for Supreme Court High Council. We call on the Lower House especially women parliamentarians to give vote of confidence to this membership and make their historic contribution towards women’s meaningful participation.
2. We call on Attorney General of Afghanistan to appoint a competent and qualified female deputy Attorney General to fill the gap and facilitate the services especially for women victims of violence.
1. We call on NUG and HPC to enable access to information in relation to peace process as well as role of women to women’s groups.
2. We call on female members of HPC to expand their coordination with women outside HPC.
3. We call on HPC and APRP Secretariat to further include qualified women with peace building expertise in Kabul and provinces.
1. International Community committing to support women empowerment initiatives must ensure that the new programs and projects are realistically funded based on the needs of women. Regular consultations and awareness raising of existing large women focused programs must always remain a priority.
2. Protection of active working women particularly women human rights defenders across the country must be supported by international community and Afghan government. The protection measures must be put in place and a system of prevention and relocation must be specifically designed including protection and safety trainings for all working women.