Tuesday, 10 March
On March 10, the UN Group of Friends of Women in Afghanistan, led by Afghanistan and the United Kingdom, held an interactive discussion, co-sponsored by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security titled: “A Critical Moment for Afghan Women: The Intra-Afghan Peace Process.” The discussion focused on protecting and enhancing the equal rights of women granted under the Afghan constitution, including their central role in peace negotiations and ensuring that any prospective outcomes in the peace process recognize, protect and promote the role of women in all spheres of life.
The event included a keynote address by Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a video message from H.E. the First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani, with a panel discussion with United Kingdom Ambassador to the UN, Karen Pierce, Ms. Nargis Nehan, Former Minister of Mines, Petroleum and Industries of Afghanistan, Dr. Orzala Nemat, Director of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, and Dr. Adam Lupel, Vice President of the International Peace Institute. The event was moderated by Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.
Ambassador Adela Raz, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, opened the event stressing that it is a pivotal moment for women in Afghanistan and that the support of allies and international partners is needed to elevate strides for Afghan women so they not only to have a seat at the negotiating table, but also for a comprehensive peace agreement that protects the constitutional rights of all Afghan women. She added that this is a critical time for the joint efforts, shared interests, and mutual investments of Afghanistan and its partners in the international community, as well as a testing period to this collective will. Ambassador Raz’s statement was echoed by a video message by First Lady Rula Ghani, who emphasized that no decision would be made with regards to the peace process, without the full backing of the people and the women of Afghanistan.
Former US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed the meeting underscoring that if society is torn apart and women are pushed to the margins, it would be more likely that terrorists will find a safe haven. She further asserted that women’s rights must be included and protected in any peace negotiations. Ambassador Karen Pierce, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom then highlighted the credible opportunity that Afghans have to end decades of fighting. She said that no one doubts the challenges ahead, but the inclusion of women in upcoming peace talks is vital to giving Afghanistan and its people the best chance of achieving lasting peace, stability, and security. Ms. Nargis Nehan, Former Minister of Mines, Petroleum and Industries of Afghanistan, and Dr. Orzala Nemat, Director of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, asserted that the protection of the constitutional rights of women and their participation during peace talks is instrumental to the foundation of a society that is representative of the New Afghanistan and which could sustain a lasting peace. This point was further sustained by IPI’s Vice President, Adam Lupel, who noted that restoring and sustaining peace after conflict is a whole society endeavor.
The meeting was also attended by Permanent Representatives and delegates from Members of the Group of Friends and other UN Member States. The interventions made from the floor by other participants centered on expressions of support to the role of women in peace and security, and the need for a meaningful participation of women in the peace talks, as well as the overall protection of shared democratic achievements of the past 19 years in Afghanistan. Member States further expressed their willingness to stand by Afghanistan and monitor the progress of the country towards achieving peace, stability and prosperity.
The UN Group of Friends of Women in Afghanistan was established with the goal of highlighting the importance of preserving women’s rights and the role that women can play across society and government, including in peace efforts.
Current members of the group include:
Full members: Afghanistan (Co-Chair), United Kingdom (Co-Chair), Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Qatar, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sweden, Turkey Turkmenistan, United States of America, United Arab Emirates, and the African Union.
Observer members: UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed and UN Women
Honorary members: The First Lady of Afghanistan, Ms. Rula Ghani, The Right Honorable Baroness Hodgson of Abinger, CBE, and Her Excellency, Retno L.P. Marsudi, Foreign Minister of Indonesia