Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Participation of Women in Peace Process

Afghan society has been patriarchal; therefore, most of the institutions in the society are led by men. In almost all forms of institutions, the involvement of women is inadequate and there is a great necessity that they should be made a part of these institutions so that they can have their say for their rights. The participation of women in the different institutions and their ability to participate in decision making processes that are of vital importance can play a key role in safeguarding their rights and securing them from violence and discrimination.
At present in Afghan political scenario the peace process is believed to be of paramount importance. Though the process, so far, has not been able to play a decisive role in guaranteeing peace, it may have some impact on future developments regarding peace and tranquility. For a reliable and lasting peace process, Afghan authorities have to make sure that it should be inclusive and must include all stakeholders. In unison, it is really significant the women should be made an integral part of the peace process so as to make it operative.
Keeping in view the lack of participation of women in peace process, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, on Thursday advocated for broader involvement by Afghan women in the peace talks process between government and insurgent groups, saying a peace process without the participation of women was not acceptable to the organization. UN Women criticized the absence of Afghan women through several rounds of peace talks and called on the Afghan government to address the concerns of the world body in this respect. She said in a statement, "UN women does not have the capacity to fight the Taliban, that is a security issue, so we would like to encourage the government to use its power with the security, what we are concerned about is the protection of the women."
Many analysts believe that in order to reach to a conclusion regarding peace process with Taliban, Afghan government may sacrifice some of the developments achieved so far; one of them could be the rights of women. Women themselves fear that the current developments may lead to the loss of gains achieved so far regarding the emancipation of women.
The participation of women in peace process will definitely give an opportunity to Afghan women to express their concerns and negotiate them with Taliban. Though government says it would set conditions for peace talks including respect of rights of women by Taliban, it is important that women should lead in this regard. It needs to take practical measures to give women better and more important role in peace process, i.e. they should have a say regarding their rights and a guarantee that any peace deal will not sabotage the efforts to heighten the role and position of women in Afghan society.
Added to this issue, there are many other issues regarding the rights of women that remain neglected. Women, in Afghanistan, are even denied their most basic rights. Their lives are not secure and they become the victims of violence and discrimination every now and then by their family members. Even the cruelest violence against women gets only temporary attention while the real issue is never resolved. The cases involving violence and discrimination against women are not pursued with honest intentions and thus the culprits are further encouraged to continue their atrocities.
Mlambo-Ngcuka also called for government to step up efforts to address the ongoing challenges facing women such as the rise in domestic violence, open trials of women by the Taliban and child marriages.
Member of Parliament Fawzia Kofi, in this regard, said, "Unfortunately, evasion from the law and impunity is still rising; the level of violence and cases such as Farkhunda and Rukhshana, who were inhumanly murdered, have not been finalized and perpetrators involved in violence have not been served justice. In the peace sphere, we want women to be authorized to make decisions."

It is of immense significance that women should be given their due rights, they should have enough role and responsibility in important institutions and decision-making processes; particularly, in the peace process with Taliban. Moreover, any sort of violence and discrimination against them must be dealt with strict measures. The law and justice system must never let the culprits get away unpunished. In addition, the socio-political and socio-economic circumstances must be amended in such a way that women should have their deserving role and rights. Even Islam does not prohibit the participation of women in social and political lives and ensures that they get their deserving position. According to the statement by the religious scholar, Niamatullah Abid, "There are people who have the wrong idea about the role of women in society, but the Islamic viewpoint is that women are allowed to participate in the political and social processes."