Thursday, January 28, 2010

UK Minister for Foreign Office and Commonwealth Ivan Lewis Vows to Ensure that No ‘Reintegration’ Settlement Will Trade Away Afghan Women’s Rights

Arezo Qanih joins Amb. Kai Eide, Government of Afghanistan Minister of Finance Dr Omar Zakhilwal, UK Minister of State and Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Ivan Lewis MP, UK Defense Minister Bill Rammell MP and UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Mike Foster MP.

Amongst others, Shinkai Kharohil and Arezo Qanih speaking on accountability and CSO recommendations for the future of Afghanistan respectively
Amongst others, Orzala Ashraf Speaks on the Importance of Women at all Levels of Governance Structures in Afghanistan

Tuesday, January 26th: Afghan civil society met in London for a British Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG) hosted conference, ‘An Alternative View: Afghan Perspectives on Development and Security'. Throughout the day CSO actors engaged in heated and lively debate on the future of Afghanistan. Amongst those speaking were Afghan women, Shinkai Karohil (Member of Parliament, Government of Afghanistan) and Orzala Aschraf (Independent Civil Society Activist) and Arezo Qanih (Programme Manager, Education Training Centre for Poor Women and Girls of Afghanistan).

The discussions were wide and varied:

· The importance of national ownership over strategy and development in Afghanistan, including military sector;

· The importance of the inclusion of Afghan women throughout all levels of public space – in particular in all peace negotiations (including jirgas), throughout all levels of government and within social services;

· Women’s rights will not to be traded away in exchange for a politically expedient peace settlement;

· The need for better coordination of aid – the delinking of aid from military objectives to ensure it is working to achieve development objectives. Aid to be needs-based rather than politically driven;

· To shift away from PRT led-development projects to putting aid into local communities for expenditure. Additionally, aid funded projects to move away from short impact projects to long term impact projects;

· Any solution must include an emphasis on accountability and ending violence and corruption with impunity. An inclusive and participatory transitional justice must be part of this;
· Listening and participation were emphasized as the first lessons of peacebuilding;
· The need to develop and invest in viable economic alternatives, such as investment in agriculture.

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