Afghan Women’s Inclusion in the Peace Process: exceptional conference on June 18

In a context of contested negotiations with the Taliban and to discuss the social situation, geopolitics, development, security and governance in Afghanistan, this conference will bring together around fifteen high level Afghan Women LeadersMr. Staffan de Mistura, Former United Nations Special Envoy for Syria and Head of the UN Mission in Afghanistan; and H.E. Omar Samad, Former Ambassador of Afghanistan in France, Senior Fellow at the  Atlantic Council.

The conference will be introduced by Vincenzo Vinzi, Dean & President of ESSEC Business School, and H.E. David Martinon, Ambassador of France in Afghanistan.

This conference is organized in partnership with Mardis de l’ESSEC and will take place on ESSEC Campus in France on Tuesday June 18th, 2019. The event will last 2 hours and start at 8 pm (France time) /  2 pm (USA – East Coast time) / 11 am (USA – Pacific Coast time).

To RSVP , please click here: Register Now

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Watch the live webcast (English version) of the conference of June 18th here:screen-play-button

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Context:

Since the late 1970s, Afghanistan has experienced a state of civil war punctuated by foreign occupation. The Taliban regime has been particularly harsh for women, especially from the point of view of education which was forbidden to them. After the fall of the Taliban government and the appointment of Hamid Karzai as interim president of Afghanistan, the country convened a Constitutional Loya Jirga (Council of Elders) in 2003 and a new constitution was ratified in January 2004. The Afghan Constitution adopted states that “the citizens of Afghanistan – whether male or female – have equal rights and duties before the law”. Since then, women have been allowed to return to work, the government no longer forces them to wear the burqa, and they have even been appointed to important positions in the government. Despite all these changes, many challenges remain. The repression of women is still widespread in rural areas where many families continue to prevent their own mothers, daughters, wives, and sisters from participating in public life.

A first presidential election was held in October 2004 and Hamid Karzai was elected President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. It was followed by legislative elections in September 2005. The National Assembly – the first legislature elected freely in Afghanistan since 1973 – began to sit in December 2005, and has included a significant number of women elected. After several elections since then, this number has remained steady thanks to the women quota included in the new constitution. The Afghan Parliament (Wolesi Jirga) has two chambers: the first has 249 seats, of which 69 are currently occupied by women. All these years, elected women and men alike have been confronted with a particular climate of palpable tension at all levels in the country, but also with increasing expectations of the population (most of whom were not satisfied during the previous mandates).

The efforts of the international community are undeniable, the city of Kabul and the big cities have been transformed in a generally positive way. Roads and infrastructure have been built. A professional army is in place. The results of efforts in the education sector, especially girls, are promising. But despite unprecedented investments of the international community, the situation in Afghanistan remains complex and worrying. Clashes and tensions have resumed seriously in recent years. It is very difficult to estimate the number of victims, homeless, internally displaced persons and refugees abroad. The year 2018 was a particularly deadly year.

The result of the last presidential election in 2014 that brought Ashraf Ghani to the helm of the country is still contested. Given the difficulties the country faces, the legislative election of October 2018 was late and the final results are still not officially confirmed. The independent electoral commission has a lot of trouble separating votes from fraud.

The presence of the Taliban in Afghanistan is becoming more and more widespread and the number of victims both within the police force and the civilian population is increasing. US President Donald Trump has appointed a new envoy for reconciliation in Afghanistan (Zalmay Khalilzad). His mission is to coordinate and carry out actions to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. He tries to find the best way to reach a negotiated settlement of the conflict. The Russians took exactly the same initiative. Bilateral meetings with the Taliban organized at the regional level either by the Americans or the Russians have taken place and recently the pace has accelerated. However, the Taliban still refuse to negotiate with the Afghan government.

Resolution 1325, adopted in 2000 by the United Nations Security Council, recognizes and encourages the role that women can play in peace and security issues. It takes into account the consequences of the war on women, as well as their contribution to the settlement of conflicts and the perpetuation of peace.  It was soon followed by seven additional resolutions (182018881889196021062122, and 2242) ensuring full and equal participation of women in post-conflict reconstruction, peace, and security. Unfortunately, since then, women have been included in very few peace processes and conflict resolution. This is the case in Afghanistan where, in all the initiatives mentioned, Afghan women seem to have no voice: their voices are almost inaudible and they fear being victims of this peace process.

The next presidential election scheduled for the Fall 2019 is worrisome. In this context, we are bringing in France for a one-week program, a group of fifteen high level Afghan women to improve and promote the participation of Afghan women in national governance, politics and the peace process.

During one week in June 2019, this group will:

  • attend a 4-day capacity-building seminar in the following areas: negotiation, conflict management, consensus building, team building and leadership. Issues of women’s inclusion in peace processes will also be addressed and participants will be supported in the development of a concrete strategy and action plan to develop their meaningful participation in the peace process in Afghanistan. It will also be an opportunity to create a network of collaboration and mutual aid between them and to strengthen their cohesion, which will contribute to a greater efficiency and the success of their actions;
  • meet with French women leaders, including MPs and Senators; it will be an opportunity for discussions and exchanges of good practices;
  • meet the media (through interviews and a press conference) and the public through two major interactive conferences that will allow them to shed light on the situation in Afghanistan, its impact at the regional level and in Europe, and the situation of Afghan women and the challenges they face in this current complex context.

To learn more about the initiative behind this program, click here.

Posted in Afghanistan, Conflict Management, Elections, Fragile States, Gender, Gender Based Violence, Human Rights, International Development, Peace, Peacebuilding, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Women in Peace” & International Women’s Day 2018

International Women’s Day invites us to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. In time for this occasion, James W. Gould, PhD, Professor Emeritus, History and International Relations at Scripps College, Claremont, CA, and his team launched the Women in Peace website (www.womeninpeace.org).

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It includes birthdates and short biographies of women peacemakers from nearly 200 countries, along with their photographs and pertinent quotes about peace. They also have compiled for the first time information about over 1000 women peace activist events. These efforts will definitely be useful for peace education! Indeed, a section of the website is dedicated to education and offers some tools such as this interesting map that presents a selection of women peacemakers by region:

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Since the groundbreaking UN Security Council resolution 1325, calling for women’s participation in peacebuilding, was passed 17 years ago, there has been a growing number of studies and reports that underscore the significant role women can play in sustaining peace.  Research shows that achieving gender equality helps in preventing conflict, and high rates of violence against women correlates with outbreaks of conflict. Nevertheless, actions for women’s inclusion, leadership and protection remain inadequate. The latest World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report finds that gender parity is over 200 years away if we pursue business as usual… As a result, this year, the International Women’s Day campaign theme is #PressforProgress. Now, more than ever, there is a strong call-to-action to reduce the gender gap in all aspects of life: from access to health and education to political power or earning potential.

Posted in Education, Fragile States, Gender, Gender Based Violence, Girls, Global Citizenship Education, Peace, Peace Education, Peacebuilding, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Global citizenship education in crisis situation: 5 main recommendations

Happy to announce the release of a study I conducted for UNESCO/Education Sector on the promotion and implementation of global citizenship education in crisis situations, available soon online.

Promotion and implementation of GCED in crisis situationsCrisis situations affect the realization of human rights of many people and communities across all regions of the world. In this context, and with the rise of political and ideological extremism including extremist nationalism, many countries are struggling to learn to live together and embrace the cultural diversity of their societies. In the face of protracted conflicts or refugee crises, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure our societies and national education systems transmit values of solidarity beyond national borders, empathy, and a sense of belonging to a common humanity – which are core elements promoted through Global Citizenship Education (GCED).

Within UNESCO’s relevant areas of work, GCED is a powerful approach to education that can empower people to recover from crises and transform their communities into peaceful and sustainable societies. This includes other specific educational approaches that provide effective entry points for promoting GCED, such as education for international understanding, peace and human rights education. UNESCO supports Member States, including those affected by crisis situations, in achieving progress towards Target 4.7 within the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In order to do so, UNESCO commissioned a desk study that aimed at reviewing existing research on the promotion and implementation of GCED and related programs in countries affected by crisis situations, with particular attention to initiatives benefiting the refugee population.

This study unveils the key challenges these programs encounter in such contexts, as well as promising practices that can guide the design and implementation of future GCED in crisis situations. This report is a synthesis of this desk study and supports the evidence that, after analyzing the context and the available means, GCED and related programs can and should be systematically adapted and implemented in crisis situations, including in response to refugee crises.

Five main recommendations for GCED in crisis situations, it should:

  1. Be contextualized/pragmatic:
  • Responding to local needs including through a needs’ assessment
  • Taking into account realities and constraints due to the crisis situation
  1. Be inclusive and participative (human rights‐based):
  • Involving all stakeholders
  • Developed and sustained in collaboration with local communities
  • Reaching out with an increased attention to vulnerable groups
  1. Be holistic/systemic:
  • Covering the local/national and global dimensions
  • Be integrated into various sub‐topics
  • Be implemented in a whole‐school approach
  1. Be adjustable and based on feedback and evaluation:
  • Benefiting from feedback and evaluation processes to correct shortcomings
  • Include the provision for periodic review and renewal
  1. Be backed by supportive and sustainable policies and strategies:
  • Embedded in policy with wide stakeholder buy‐in
  • Supported by pre‐service and continuing in‐service teacher training
  • Backed by a resource mobilization strategy and long‐term funding
  • Supported by monitoring/evaluation and research based on quantitative and qualitative indicators
  • Scalable with follow‐up and quality education
Posted in Afghanistan, Africa, Child Protection, Education, Fragile States, Global Citizenship Education, Human Rights Education, International Development, Peace Education, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

“Victories over Violence, Ensuring Safety for Women and Girls,” a practitioners’ manual

Women’s Learning Partnership just released an interesting practitioners’ manual Victories over Violence: Ensuring Safety for Women and Girls (authors: Mahnaz Afkhami, Haleh Vaziri). 

Women’s Learning Partnership is a nonprofit organization consisting of 20 autonomous national partner organizations based in the Global South, particularly in Muslim-majority societies, dedicated to women’s advancement and political participation. Here is a short video presenting this organization:

Educating for Safety and Peace is a key to this issue of gender-based violence:

Gaps between passing legislation and operationalizing the human rights of women and girls remain. Perhaps the most significant effort to close these gaps centers on education in the sense of both consciousness-raising and the development of professional expertise. Grassroots educational endeavors must help communities fully grasp the extent of violence and the short- and long-term harm done not only to victims but also to the society at large. Education geared towards professionals must enable them to acquire not only a body of expert knowledge and a skills set, but also, and of equal importance, a gendered perspective to apply to the tasks of preventing violence against females and addressing its impact on victims, perpetrators and society as a whole.”

The manual includes 16 sessions which unfold in a progression—moving from violence at home or in the private sphere, to the community or public space, to the transnational and international arenas. Case studies in each session are drawn from actual events and feature stories set in societies as diverse as Haiti, Malaysia, Nepal, and the United States.

This enables the facilitator and participants to explore the linkages between violence in these three realms—the private, public and global—while underscoring the point that gender-based human rights violations are ubiquitous and defy cultural, economic, ethnic, political, religious and other divisions.

Within each session, the case study serves to spark conversation about the causes and consequences of violence against women and girls, the choices that victims make to survive and re-build their lives, as well as the measures practitioners take in addressing these human rights violations. Following the case studies are “questions for discussion,” and all but the last two sessions feature learning exercises.

The resulting dialogue allows the participants to identify and prioritize their concerns and to recognize obstacles as they strive to prevent violence and to vindicate the human rights of those victimized by it.”

Here are the different sessions available in the manual:

Section A: Violence in the Private Sphere

  • Session 1: Meeting and Greeting to Create a Learning Community
  • Session 2: Verbal and Psychological Abuse at Home
  • Session 3: Mistreatment of Domestic Workers
  • Session 4: Intimate Partner Violence
  • Session 5: Female Genital Mutilation
  • Session 6: Forced Marriage and Child Brides
  • Session 7: Murder in the Name of Honor

Section B: Violence in the Community

  • Session 8: Sexual Harassment in Public Spaces
  • Session 9: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
  • Session 10: Rape and Sexual Assault
  • Session 11: Hate Crimes against Lesbians
  • Session 12: Prostitution

Section C: Violence by the State, Across Borders and in the Global Arena

  • Session 13: Trafficking for Sex Slavery
  • Session 14: Rape as a Weapon of War
  • Session 15: The Roles and Rights of Women and Girls in Peacemaking and Post-war Reconstruction, UN Security Council Resolution 1325
  • Session 16: Conclusions, Evaluation of the Experience and Recommendations

The manual is available in English and in French, both versions can be downloaded here:

Posted in Afghanistan, Africa, Child Protection, Education, Gender Based Violence, Girls, Girls' Education, Human Rights Education, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What Next For Afghanistan?

Parliamentary Elections in Kabul, September 2010 © Fahimeh Robiolle

Afghans are getting ready to vote for their next president in a few hours. As David Loyn (BBC) reports, the Afghan election will see “the biggest security operation mounted in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.” The results of this election will be highly scrutinized and the international community is wondering if Afghanistan can hold a credible election… While there is a widespread concern about ballot stuffing, serious efforts have been invested in ensuring that attempts to rig the poll will fail. The Taliban have vowed to disrupt the vote and there were a string of attacks leading up to it, but security at this election will be tighter than in previous votes. Media reports suggest that the majority of the people in Afghanistan are looking forward to casting their votes despite threats of terror attacks.

In this climate of uncertainty, International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls for urgent humanitarian and development aid investment to ‘protect fragile gains’ in Afghanistan. Its latest report, What Next for Afghanistan?, warns against fatal drift in 2014. It draws on more than 25 years of experience of operating in Afghan communities and surveyed over a hundred Afghan members of IRC staff.

Against a backdrop of deep aid cuts and wavering commitments from donors, the report makes specific recommendations to improve the delivery of aid to protect and build on the fragile gains of the last decade – from education to health care to other essential community-based services.

David Miliband, president and CEO of the IRC, said, “It is extraordinary that just 0.025 per cent of the estimated cost of military operations in Afghanistan could provide critical assistance for 5 million Afghans this year.* [UK figure is 1.75 percent of UK military spending over ten years.] We can’t afford to lose the fragile gains of the last decade and we don’t have to.”

He also adds that “conflict has torn at the fabric of Afghanistan for generations and a great deal of blood and treasure has been spent in the last decade. What we need now is urgent and sustainable investment to support the Afghans in securing their own future. Despite real security concerns the international community must not turn its back on the Afghan people. The end of international military operations in Afghanistan is the time to redouble humanitarian efforts, not scale them back.”

The report calls on the international community to stand beside the Afghan people as international troops leave the country:

  • Five million Afghans need lifesaving support, such as food and emergency medical care,
  • 4 million have chronic longer terms needs, including safety from conflict, regular employment and access to health care,
  • 650,000 Afghans are displaced within the country and an additional 2.5 million are living as refugees in neighboring countries, unable to return home.

The IRC report details specific recommendations, urging the international community to:

  1. Make a long-term commitment to the people of Afghanistan.
  2. Support millions in need by making high-return investments at the local level with effective community-based programs.
  3. Break the cycle of displacement through refuge, resettlement and asylum for vulnerable Afghans who cannot yet safely return home, and target those who have returned with concentrated support.
  4. Respond quickly to lifesaving humanitarian and life-building development needs.
  5. Use limited resources effectively. Aid agencies must coordinate and share information so that assistance reaches all in need.
  6. Create a plan to align humanitarian and development response by listening to the needs of the people and draw on existing frameworks to create a comprehensive plan.

These recommendations were developed with and are supported by the IRC’s Afghanistan Taskforce: Madeleine Albright, Sir John Holmes, M. Farooq Kathwari, Kathleen Newland, Milbrey Rennie, Gideon Rose, Maureen White, and James Wolfensohn.

Read the full report ‘What Next For Afghanistan’ here.

* Total US financial costs of $1.6 trillion over 12 years is an estimate from the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. The UN-OCHA-led humanitarian community is seeking $406 million through the Common Humanitarian Action Plan to provide the 5 million most vulnerable Afghans with lifesaving assistance in 2014. The sum $406 million is 0.025 per cent of $1.6 trillion. The UK Parliament Defence Committee’s 4th report estimated operations in Afghanistan cost the military £14 billion over ten years. The sum $406 million is 1.75 per cent of £14 billion at current exchange rates.
 

Source: BBC,  International Rescue Committee

Posted in Afghanistan, Conflict Management, Elections, Fragile States, Peacebuilding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Re-thinking gender in peacebuilding: new International Alert report

International Alert  just released a new report, Re-thinking gender in peacebuilding by Henri Myrttinen, Jana Naujoks, Judy El-Bushra. This report calls for a more nuanced understanding of the role gender plays in peacebuilding.

This report is part of a three-year research project by International Alert, Gender in Peacebuilding, aimed at deepening and expanding understanding on gender and peacebuilding, from a ‘relational’ perspective, addressing the links between gender and social relations. Focusing on Burundi, Colombia, Nepal and Uganda, the research examines four thematic focus on four areas of peacebuilding, and how these issues interrelate to peacebuilding and gender:

  • access to justice (including formal, informal, traditional and transitional justice);
  • economic recovery (especially of ex-combatants and of returnee populations of refugees, abductees or internally displaced persons (IDPs));
  • inter-generational tensions and conflict; and
  • permutations and continuum of violence (e.g. self-inflicted, interpersonal, domestic, sexual and gender-based, criminal, communal and political violence).

The findings of the research on Uganda, Renegotiating the ‘ideal’ society, were published last month. Research on Burundi, Colombia and Nepal will follow in the coming months.

Gender has long been recognized as a key factor in both violent conflict and peacebuilding, and is a common subject in academic and policy discussions. The importance of tackling sexual and gender-based violence is now widely acknowledged, as is the fact that men, women and sexual and gender minorities have different roles, experiences and vulnerabilities in conflict.

So why is ‘gender’ still so often used as shorthand for just ‘women and girls’? And why are women and girls so commonly treated as one homogenous group, with identical experiences? This kind of over-simplification not only excludes women from decision-making processes, but disregards their role in peacebuilding and violence. It is also not possible to truly understand the role played by gender in conflict and peace without bringing men – as men – into the analysis, and in particular examining men’s relationships to different forms of violence, both as perpetrators and as victims. The same goes for sexual and gender minorities, for whom conflict and post-conflict periods can be highly precarious but may also offer new spaces and opportunities in society.

Re-thinking gender in peacebuilding highlights the need for a ‘gender-relational’ approach. This means not just moving away from equating gender with only women and girls, but also examining the complex relationships between gender and other aspects of people’s identities, such as age, social class, sexuality, disability, ethnic or religious background, marital status and where they live. The field research showed numerous possibilities of what a gender-relational approach can mean in practice and highlight the complexities of addressing gender identities and dynamics and peacebuilding – at the personal, local, national and international level.

Some broad lessons for peacebuilding practice emerge from this research and are detailed in the report:

  • Understanding the context;
  • Identifying who to work with and how;
  • Identifying best ways of working;
  • Applying a gender-relational approach to different sectors and themes; and
  • Implications for organisational structures, policies and practices.

Source: International Alert

Posted in Africa, Conflict Management, Fragile States, Gender, Gender Based Violence, Peacebuilding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Women, Men, and Peace: new issue of the Alliance for Peacebuilding online publication

The Alliance for Peacebuilding just released the third issue of their free semi-annual online publication, Building Peace: A Forum for Peace and Security in the 21st Century. This last issue, Women, Men, and Peace, explores questions of gender and peace through the first-hand realities of peacebuilders across the world. The first legal framework of its kind, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 marked a meaningful step toward gender inclusion in the peacebuilding world and its implementation is significant. Evidenced continually, inclusive peace processes are overwhelmingly more effective in gaining and sustaining peace. Inside are the stories of men and women working towards achieving this ideal, in their words.

Women, Men, and Peace is dedicated to gender equality and a world where women and men collaborate to achieve lasting peace in conflict contexts and features a series of compelling articles, including:

  • Azra Jafari, Afghanistan’s only female mayor, shares her experience with gender and peace;
  • Don Steinberg of World Learning and previous deputy administrator of USAID discusses of the reality of men in peacebuilding from his experience on the ground;
  • Kristen Gresh, Assistant Curator of Photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, tells us the story behind the exhibit She Who Tells a Story that introduced the pioneering work of twelve leading contemporary Arab and Iranian women photographers; and
  • Valerie M. Hudson, a professor of political science, offers an intriguing piece, Secure Women, Secure States, that explores the connection between the status of women and peace. In a series of empirical analyses over 140 nation-states, she found with her colleagues that “the overall level of violence against women was a better predictor of state peacefulness, compliance with international treaty obligations, and relations with neighboring countries than indicators measuring the level of democracy, level of wealth, and civilizational identity of the state:”

“A policy implication of the research findings regarding the link between gender equity and state security is the empowerment of women and girls. If society rejects impunity for violence against women and champions equal voice and equal representation for women in all important decision making, from the home to the state, these old, dysfunctional templates will crumble. The security of women influences the security of states in a way that we, as a world, must finally recognize and act upon. Just as former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted that the subjugation of women is a direct threat to the security of the United States, so the world must develop its own Hillary Doctrine, or pay the price in national and international insecurity.” Valerie M. Hudson, Secure Women, Secure States

Mother, Daughter, Doll series | Boushra Almutawakel (Yemeni, born in 1969) 2010 | Photograph, chromogenic print (archival C-print) © Boushra Almutawakel | Courtesy of the artist and East Wing Contemporary Gallery Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Source: Alliance for Peacebuilding

Posted in Afghanistan, Fragile States, Gender Based Violence, Peace, Peace Education, Peacebuilding, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,