To help encourage debate on the critical role of women in developing peace and strengthening security in the country, UNAMA this week commenced a series of Afghan-wide events as part of the UN’s Global Open Days initiative.
Open Days events are designed to raise awareness about the role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflict and to stress the importance of women’s participation in maintaining and promoting peace. Open Days were launched in 2010 on the tenth anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women.
The first event in the series of nationwide meetings took place in Gardez on 7 September, the capital of the southeastern province of Paktya. That event brought together leading women’s rights activists to discuss women’s empowerment and women’s role in the Afghan peace process.
Some three dozen participants, including members of the Provincial Council, the head of the Women’s Affairs Department, youth activists, lecturers and students, attended the event. As part of their discussion, participants identified the challenges faced by women in the province, including insecurity and cultural constraints.
University lecturer Nazdana Paktiawal said Afghan women are highly competent and stressed the need for their increasingly prominent role in political, social, economic and culture spheres. Other participants called for Afghan leaders to work to counter the cultural barriers that have blocked women from participating fully in Afghan society.
In another Open Days event held on 8 September in the country’s northern city of Mazar-e Sharif, some 40 participants, including civil society representatives, government officials, college students and provincial council members, assessed the challenges faced by women in the province and the achievements they’ve made in the interest of peace and security.
“Improvement in the living conditions for Afghan women over the past decade is irrefutable, such as the presence of 72 female members in the provincial peace councils across the country,” said Nilofar Sayar, an activist in Balkh. “However, there is still a long way to go.”
Those gathered in Balkh agreed that women’s role in the peace process is essential to achieving sustainable peace in Afghanistan. “We need a generation free from war and violence, and it’s women who can give it to us,” said Afzal Hadid, a member of Balkh’s Provincial Council.
Similar Open Days events are scheduled to take place across Afghanistan in the coming weeks, including in Bamyan, Nangarhar, Kunduz, Herat and Kandahar.
UNAMA is mandated to support Afghan institutions and civil society groups to enhance women’s meaningful contributions in Afghanistan’s political and security transitions, including in the peacebuilding agenda.