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Opinion

Rights watchdog, UN and Afghan women band together over ceasefire calls

By: The Kabul Times

KABUL: The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and UN Women Afghanistan stated that gendered ceasefires are a prerequisite for peace talks and a negotiated settlement.
In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, the organizations said that women across the globe have long been at the frontlines of conflict and crisis, pioneering ways to end the conflict, participating in peace, and advocating for the rights of women and girls in agreement seeking to end violent conflict.
“Yet often, women’s expertise and priorities are excluded from formal ceasefire agreements and implementation mechanisms. In Afghanistan, women continue to risk their lives every day in the name of peace,” the statement read.
The organizations added that 2020 marked the highest number of women killed since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began systematic documentation in 2009.
Shaharzad Akbar Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission stated: “Why are we talking about ceasefires and peace when the violence rates are so high? Because this is the common demand of all Afghans, across ethnicities, across genders, across geographies, across age groups: the end of war and ceasefire. From a human rights perspective, from all perspectives, this the biggest need, working for peace”
The publication – Gender-responsive ceasefires and ceasefire agreements – was launched for highlighting how a gender-responsive ceasefire is urgently needed in the context of Afghanistan to secure the conditions for meaningful peace talks, the statement noted.
The publication outlines a practical set of recommended entry points for securing gender-related provisions in the ceasefire text as well as outlining how ceasefire agreements can address the gender dynamics of conflict, the organizations said.
The publication was launched at an event in which Abdullah Abdullah, Chairperson of High Council for National Reconciliation; Hasina Safi, Acting Minister of Women’s Affairs; Habiba Sarabi, Member of Peace Negotiation Team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; and Mette Knudsen, Deputy Special Representative of the US Secretary-General were present.
The event featured a collective call for a ceasefire from Afghan women across provinces and the international community in Kabul to put an end to all forms of violence, the organizations noted.
“For the last 40 years, women have been the major victims of war. If we really want a ceasefire that lasts, we need women to be part of it and all their needs must be taken very well into consideration. Peace is what all Afghan people want. A just peace, a peace for all. A justified peace that takes the rights of all Afghans into consideration,” Abdullah Abdullah said.
“Today’s discussion, on gender provisions in ceasefire agreements, is very timely for Afghanistan. The need to reduce violence remains. Women are concerned that their rights will be at risk, they are concerned that the civil society space is shrinking. All Afghans, particularly women, are asking for an end to violence in all its forms,” said Mette Knudsen.
Aleta Miller, a UN Women Representative in Afghanistan, stated that Afghanistan can lead the world on peace processes.
“Globally, peace processes say little or nothing about women’s rights, and statistically equality between women and men is a pre-requisite for long-lasting peace. Afghanistan can and should be different. But for any progress to happen, violence, in all its forms, must stop. It must stop now and forever, for any peace to happen, for any peace to last, for any progress.” Miller said.

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