Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Challenges for Women Peace Building in Afghanistan

If we want to do justice to peace, we must do justice to resolution 1325. To many people, peace is an inverse, or even a mere corollary of conflict, but such a vague notion does not lead to a clear understanding or definitions of what it is that people are trying to promote or achieve in peace building.  Most approaches to peace building have either ignored or marginalized issues of gender and women in Afghanistan. Afghan women consistently remain a minority of participants in peace building initiatives receiving less attention than men in policies; and gender analysis rarely informs peace building strategies.
While women and peace is a topical issue and has been for a very long time, it continues to demand from the world a more genuine attention and clarity of purpose if we are to fully enjoy positive peace for all. 
Peacebuilding from Gender-Aware Perspectives
It is not uncommon to assume that Afghan women have special qualities which equip them better than men for peace, and better for peace than for war. For instance, International Alert’s draft Code of Conduct stated that, “We explicitly recognize the particular and distinctive peacemaking roles played by women in conflict afflicted communities. Women and women’s organizations are often reservoirs of important local capacities which can be used in peace building activities”. The common association of women, and the female gender with peace, suggests that policies to work with women ought to be fundamental to peace building. There are many examples where women have courageously intervened in battles to force peace. Women have also taken up opportunities for peacemaking between groups of warring men. Under such circumstances they sometimes call on and express values, behavior and codes which are explicitly associated with their gender.
Indeed, both men and women have the potential for peacemaking and the responsibility to build and keep peace. The women, however, seem more creative and effective in waging peace. It is the women’s emotional strength to transcend pain and suffering, and their predisposition to peace that provide them with greater potentials for peacemaking. It is therefore often the case that ideas about some of women’s distinctive qualities  become identified with the way forward in peace building, and strategies therefore focus on ways to enhance, support and extend the work that women are thought to be well-equipped to undertake. 
The challenge to gender relations often becomes too great for patriarchal societies and institutions to maintain in times of peace, and women find their historical contribution marginalized in both official and popular accounts of conflict, and their freedoms in peacetime restricted or removed. This type of peace settlement might be called a `gendered peace, where governments or warring parties establish new constitutions or peace processes which marginalize the needs of women or effectively limit or restrict the rights of women. 
An inclusive approach to security means that peace processes must include women who, although they are key actors, are often overlooked and underestimated. In most conflict situations, women constitute more than 50 percent of the adult population and are actively engaged in peace building while addressing the basic survival needs of their families and communities. Their contributions at local, national and international levels are critical to sustainable peace. Yet historically Afghan women have been portrayed as passive victims with little regard given to their actual and potential roles in promoting peace and fostering security. In October 2000, for the first time in its history, the United Nations Security Council acknowledged that women have a key role in promoting sustainable peace by unanimously adopting Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. It calls on all actors to ensure women’s participation in peace processes from the prevention of conflict to negotiations to post war reconstruction.