Afghanistan is at a critical juncture. The recent transfer of political power from former president Hamid Karzai to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between the Afghan government and government of the United States, signing of Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) with NATO and handover of transition process from the international security forces to Afghan National Security Forces are positive steps towards ensuring a sustainable Afghanistan.
The London International Conference on Afghanistan will provide the first opportunity for the new Afghan government to share their plans and commitments for implementation of Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF) and other relevant development initiatives. This conference will also be an important platform for the international community to reaffirm their 2012 Tokyo conference commitments, discuss plans for the distribution of aid, and renew their commitment to supporting Afghan women’s empowerment.
These shifts will profoundly impact the lives of Afghan women. Despite the gains they have achieved, many still face challenges stemming from insecurity, violence and discrimination. In remote areas, women lack basic rights such as access to education, health and social presence. 2012 and 2013 were the most violent years to date for Afghan women, and international media continue to depict Afghanistan as one of the most dangerous countries for women. At the current moment increasing numbers of attacks on employed women has negatively impacted their active participation in politics, economic and public life.
The Afghan Women’s Network’s (AWN) believes 13 years of achievements for the improvement of Afghan women’s lives are linked to the support and contribution of the former government and international community. We want to protect these achievements by representing Afghan women in this conference. To that end AWN consulted over 100 women in Kabul and surrounding provinces in developing this paper. We seek to present Afghan women’s views, to outline their needs as well as recommended solutions in eight critical areas: 1) good governance; 2) peace and security; 3) access to justice; 4) political participation; 5) economic development; 6) healthcare; 7) education; and 8) donor support for GIRoA. The following recommendations are intended to inform discussions at the London International Conference on Afghanistan.
1. Good Governance
• Appoint women to decision-making roles within government ministries and independent institutions.
• Consult women in government and civil society in planning, implementation, and monitoring of national and international frameworks to guarantee participation, transparency and accountability on the part of the Afghan government.
• Women’s participation leading the fight against administrative corruption for an effective impact should be a priority. More competent women should be given authority and responsibility in Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee and High Office of Anti-Corruption.
• Develop strategies and serious follow up toward the implementation for ending all forms of structural and social discrimination against women.
2. Peace and Security
• Enforcement and implement the Afghanistan National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.
• Recruit, retain, and strategically integrate women in the Afghan National Security Forces, including at the decision-making and leadership levels.
• Allocate 20 percent of seats on the National Security Council to women in order to factor gender considerations into national security planning.
• Create an oversight committee including police women and civil society representatives to monitor the appointment and daily work of the Afghan Local Police units.
• Review the performance of the High Peace Council (HPC). This should focus on assessing the level of participation of women in the Afghan peace process.The analyzes should identify gaps and advise proposed changes to the HPC structure to help ensure experienced and qualified women are appointed.
3. Access to Justice
• Empower the formal judicial system to contend with administrative corruption that interferes with women’s access to justice.
• Support specific strategies and plans to monitor implementation of Elimination of Violence against Women law (EVAW).
• Support mechanisms to ratify and implement family law to address elimination of domestic and social violence against women.
• Serious support and practical measures towards ratification and enforcement of regulation to prevent discrimination against women and regulation of prevention of all forms of sexual harassment against girls and women in order to prevent all sorts of discriminations and negative attitude toward women at the national level,
• Guarantee prevention and protection of women and girls from sexual harassment and sexual and gender based violence within government institutions, education, higher education and societal platforms through implementation of specific regulation and policy.
• Serious follow up of the legal procedures of perpetrators committing violence, sexual and gender abuse to women, increase the number of women judges at the provincial level, establish elimination of violence against women special courts at the national level and establishment women shelters to support women victims of all forms of violence in all provinces.
4. Political Participation
• Provide political and diplomatic support for women-led advocacy organizations to reform the electoral law to increase the quota for women on Provincial Councils from 20% to 25%.
• Increase women’s representation to a minimum of 30% within senior leadership positions in the administrative and judicial branches of government.
• Support participation of women at the national, regional and international decision making levels through diplomatic pressures and financial support as and when needed.
• Support further formation of women’s networks for shared learning on local and regional cooperation (that should include women in politics and government).
5. Economic Development
• Increase the participation of women in the Economic High Council of the Ministers to advocate for women’s economic empowerment;
• Networking and create links between Afghan Business Women with the GoIRA, private sector and CSOs;
• Provide credit to women, create simplified conditions for women’s access to loans (especially for those women who do not own land and properties);
• Develop and increase women’s entrepreneurial education and training opportunities (Technical and vocational Trainings);
• Implement economic procedures considering the gender requirements based on urban economic development, rural and regional economic development;
• Support initiatives that provide easier access for women in the labor market.
• Develop and increase the number of healthcare centers at the provincial level for women.
• Allocate specific budget for productivity health and prevent maternal mortality.
• Develop healthcare insurance for women especially insurance for numerous cancers.
• Evaluate and improve the quality of healthcare services for women (including psychic healthcare).
• Provide quality health care for women (including psychosocial care)
• Inclusion of women in decision-making and managing educational and scientific opportunities.
• Increase women’s access to vocational and educational trainings.
• Support the creation of educational opportunities for people with disabilities.
• Promote literacy, higher education, and technical skill building for women.
• Develop and improve the capacity of technical instructors across the country.
• Increase the number of women teachers.
8. International Donor Support for GoIRA
• Encourage and support of allocation of gender based budgeting to empower women through government ministries.
• Ensure programming, consultation and funding for women activists and organizations to develop effective, long-term and sustainable programs for women across the country.
• Support the inclusion of women in implementing and monitoring women focused programs to ensure the transparency of Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF) implementation focus.
• Make funding for the Afghan government conditional on attention to gender and inclusion of women, with a particular focus on women and the justice sector.
*Position Paper on the occasion of London Conference on Afghanistan – 13 November 2014