Afghanistan: Women from Bamyan urge the international community to not leave them behind
11 May 2021
The recent announcement of the United States’ military withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 2021 is breeding uncertainty among Afghan nationals as to the future of their country. In this context and as part of a more global approach, Geneva Call gathered 78 women representatives from Bamyan province of central Afghanistan to gather their insights on civilian protection in minority-dominated provinces.
The women, representing five categories, including women’s rights activists, members of village councils, university students and teachers, Ulamas (religious scholars), and women entrepreneurs, presented Geneva Call and the international community with a set of political, economic, military and social recommendations that would benefit the people of Bamyan, protecting the rights and lives of women, and civilians in general.
The participation of different women’s groups in peace processes is of the utmost importance. As data has demonstrated, the participation of civil society organizations such as women’s groups makes peace agreements 64% less likely to fail. In turn, the explicit involvement of women in the process leads to more durable agreements that tend to be better implemented. In fact, it increases the probability of a peace agreement lasting at least two years by 20%, and by 35% the probability of a peace agreement lasting 15 years. It is therefore promising that the women of Bamyan are demonstrating initiative in this regard.
All five groups highlighted their desire for peace and a stable security situation in the country. The Bamyan women rights activists, members of village councils and university students all called for an immediate, nationwide cease-fire. Such a commitment would suspend the current cycle of violence that has a direct and destructive impact on the lives of all civilians. Both the women rights activists and village councils stress the importance of monitoring mechanisms during and after the peace process, recommending that the international community implement such mechanisms.
The women entrepreneurs of Bamyan province brought an economic perspective to the table, highlighting the key role of women in the local economy: “Thousands of entrepreneurs are financially supporting their families and have become a source of employment for almost a hundred women who can financially support their families. The women entrepreneurs are the reason that Bamyan has changed to a cultural centre and a city of innovation in the world.” Thus, the importance of protecting women’s economic rights in the area.
Another valuable perspective to include in peace negotiations is that of religion. In particular, many Muslim scholars insist on the necessity to shape peacebuilding strategies within an Islamic framework. The female religious scholars state in their recommendations that “War and bleeding is forbidden in Quran; as Allah Almighty said in Chapter Al-Ma’idah verse Number 32: Whoever takes a life—unless as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land—it will be as if they killed all of humanity; and whoever saves a life, it will be as if they saved all of humanity. (…) Therefore, peace is compulsory”. The core principles of Islamic peacebuilding create common ground between belligerents, which may facilitate good faith in negotiations.
Geneva Call is appreciative of the collaborative work with these groups on topics that are key to our mission and will continue to engage with communities in Bamyan to promote the rights of civilians in situations of armed conflicts. In June, Geneva Call will hold a round table in Kabul gathering influential Afghan women, national security services, women associated with armed groups and representatives of the donor community to discuss the role that women associated with armed groups can play in reducing violence against civilians, preserving peace dividends.
Geneva Call is therefore proud to present the following recommendations:
Recommendations of Bamyan Women Rights Activists
- An immediate ceasefire, reduction of violence, no killing of women rights and civil activists.
- Responsible and committed withdrawal of foreign military forces from Afghanistan.
- Involvement of women and 50 % participation of women in the peace process.
- Protection of the achievements of the last two decades of women.
- Consideration of the rights of Ethnic minority and religious minority groups.
- Protection and support of the system that guarantees the values of human rights, rules of democracy and women rights.
- Implementation of transitional justice.
- Ongoing support from the international community and international organizations in regard to respect for human rights during the peace process and after the peace agreement.
- Accurate and effective monitoring of the international community from the peace process and guarantee of the implementation of the promises made by parties to the peace agreement during the transitional period and after the peace agreement.
- We females declare our opposition regarding the government of the Islamic Emirates and the high council of Islamic jurisprudence.
Recommendations of women from village councils
- Signature of a peace agreement in Afghanistan, including women rights, freedom of speech and freedom of choice or right to employment.
- We recommend Geneva calls to open their office in Bamyan province.
- We request to the international community that the money and other kinds of huge support considered or allocated to Afghanistan by the international community shall be implemented according to close monitoring and evaluation of the international community and shall be divided equally to all ethnicities.
- The rights of Hazara people shall not be violated with the peace agreement and shall be treated and considered equally as other ethnic groups.
- Immediate ceasefire before the peace negotiation.
Recommendations of University students
- 50 % participation of women in all aspects.
- The international community must pay close attention to the rights which are not received or had access to in the province.
- Respect for the rights of minorities.
- Respect to the rights of Hazara people and maintenance of peace nationwide
- An immediate ceasefire.
Recommendations of female Ulamas (religious scholars)
- Peace is compulsory, and the peace and stability is focused and recommended in Quran as well since the word peace has appeared for different meanings in different sentences in Quran such as: peace meaning unity, peace meaning closeness, peace meaning reforms, peace meaning avoidance of violence etc. and this words is use generally in Quran which means struggles for peace and maintenance of peace obligatory on each Muslim man and woman.
- Acknowledgement of the fact that peace is the reason for developments and improvement of religious affairs, education, culture, social economic etc.
The women entrepreneurs of Bamyan province
- Acknowledgement of the fact that the women entrepreneurs of Bamyan are the reason that Bamyan has changed to a cultural centre and a city of innovation in the world and Bamyan got the first position in international exhibition and businesswomen.
- We recommend Geneva Call and the International Community to support women rights in Afghanistan and make their efforts to maintain peace for the business women especially women entrepreneurs of Bamyan province who have always been supportive of peace and security in the country.