“Women’s rights are not up for deal”

We women need peace more than anybody else, because we lose more than men in war. War rubs us of the little rights we have fought for over the long years as well as of the economic, political, social and cultural opportunities. At the same time, we believe that achieving a lasting peace is impossible without realisation of justice, good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights. The core of all those concepts are women’s rights and their real participation in the task of determining the course of the society.
The political participation of women depends on macro and micro policy making to create change in the current culture. Equal and qualitative participation of women in all the political, social, and economic areas is the prerequisite for achieving peace, a healthy, humane, and balanced society free of violence, poverty and injustice.

Women have countless needs in the war-afflicted Afghan society. The Kabul Conference cannot be expected to respond to all those issues and the economic, social, cultural and political complexities of this country. We are addressing the people who are reconsidering the macro national politics and the course of action for this country. It should be noted that it is not possible to draw a course for the society out of the crisis plaguing women without a strong presence of the government. It is beyond the capacity of the newly formed civil society and the conventional international and domestic NGOs to provide lasting responses to that great social problem. The women in the 50% Campaign contend that, in the absence of comprehensive planning and determination within the three branches of power as well as extensive investment in education and the right to eliminate illiteracy, it is not possible to claim that dealing with sexual discrimination and deprivation of 50% of the population tops the priorities of the government and the international community.

Activists of Women’s 50% Campaign, however, take this brief opportunity to offer their proposals within the framework determined for the Kabul Conference with a constructive aim and in support of the movement aiming to bring order to the national conditions and to build a just peace for a progressive Afghanistan:

a) Agriculture and rural development

  • Expand the technical and vocational training centres for women to build capacities of women in particular in deprived regions;
  • Establish rural production cooperatives to improve the economic conditions of women and support women’s work.

b) Economic development and infrastructures

  • Work out a budget geared to gender issues and prepare a comprehensive development plan to structure women’s economic affairs;
  • Give priority to employment of women heads of family in planning for the labour market;
  • Establish a special fund to help widows, women heads of family, female invalids and disabled.

c) Human resources development

  • Declare a public mobilisation for literacy and work out comprehensive adult literacy plans in particular for women and girls who have been withheld from education, and allocate the required financial and human resources;
  • Give extensive executive powers to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to fulfil the ministry’s policies;
  • Establish schools in villages and deprived regions for women and girls; provide equal opportunities for female students to benefit from scholarships and other educational benefits including secure and good quality dormitories;
  • Work out a national family planning scheme, only one aspect of which should be provision of free contraceptives and publicity for using them and attention to women’s health.

d) Governance

  • Increase women’s capability to participate in decision making and leadership and promote the increase in share of native women at all decision making and executive levels;
  • Establish gender balance in national and international delegations, government committees, administrative and judicial bodies, lists of nominees for election or appointment to UN delegations, specialised agencies and other self-governing organisations of the UN, in particular at senior positions;
  • Commit the government to all its national and international obligations, in particular the Constitution, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and other international treaties and agreements in regard to women’s rights and elimination of discrimination against women as well as the UN Resolution 1325;
  • Promote and ensure policies and procedures free of discrimination in organisations financed by government credits or donors, to increase the number and promote the status of women in the said organisations;
  • Establish clear and definite criteria for decision making authorities and ensure that selection boards are gender balanced.

e) Rule of law and human rights

  • Block the presence and influence of perpetrators and suspects of crimes against humanity and war crimes in important government posts, parliament, the judiciary and other national and local elected bodies and dismiss them from their present posts;
  • Launch a comprehensive fight against administrative corruption to regain national confidence and legitimise the government;
  • Enhance the proceedings of justice for women in the judicial system;
  • Recognise women as victims of many decades of war and endeavour to improve their quality of living;
  • Establish legal and lawful security for women and endeavour to annul/reform the discriminatory laws and enhance a fair judiciary to provide for societal and economic security and to prevent and eliminate violence against women;
  • Recognise the link between impunity and the ongoing violation of human rights that would undermine efforts to reduce poverty and to achieve a fair and enduring social and economic development and create an free political climate;
  • End all forms of violence against women and prosecute instances of violence;
  • Prevent under-age and forced marriages and punish the offenders.