With only one Afghan woman officially attending the London Conference, and no women on the Government of Afghanistan delegation, the House of Commons discussion focused on the question, with such significant rhetoric around women’s rights and inclusion, where are the women, and why was there resistance to their inclusion?
WE ARE WORRIED ABOUT OUR FUTURE – we are extremely concerned that a ‘reintegration’ policy/ talks with the Taliban will result in a rolling back in the gains made in women’s human rights since 2001. Women’s rights must not be bargained away in the interest of short term peace and security, and to the detriment of long term peace and stability. Any approach to security must to be about the security of all people of Afghanistan – the Government of Afghanistan and the international community must adhere to their obligations under UN SCR 1325, including ensuring that Afghan women are involved in peace and security process.
While we as Afghans may not like it, an immediate withdrawal of troops, a speedy settlement, would be a failure for your Government and mine. We need time, we need patience. We do not need quick fit solutions. We are extremely cautious of this ‘reintegration’ that everyone is talking about. First there needs to be a reconciliation process – and this is a process, one that may take some time. And it must include a holistic transitional justice process so that those who have committed violence in my country are held to account for that violence.
We, Afghan women, are not helpless victims of violence and of our circumstance. We are agents of change. We need opportunities to engage in the dialogue – at the local, national and international level. We want to be treated as human beings who deserve the right to exist equal to others.