Afghan women embrace greater role in peace process

By Najibullah


Afghan women September 15 in Herat Province attend a meeting called 'Peace Mothers' Conference'. Under the Taliban regime (1996-2001), women were not allowed to work or go to school. [Afghan High Peace Council]

KABUL -- Afghan women are doing their part in seeking a peaceful means to put an end to the war in Afghanistan.

Many say that they can play an important role in bringing peace since they are not actively involved on the war front, and calls are growing to increase the number of women on the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC).

The HPC has only one female member -- deputy chairperson Habiba Sarabi -- and four women on its 24-member executive council. The HPC's membership has varied, but it had 50 members in mid-2016.

"In the past, the presence of women was meagre, but active women are now present in the leadership of the council and their activities are tangible," said Sarabi, the first ever woman to hold her position.

The HPC recently launched a series of meetings entitled "Peace Mothers' Conference" to increase women's role in the peace process and also to build women's peace networks.

So far, meetings have taken place in Kabul, Bamiyan and Herat.

If it proves to be successful, the programme will be implemented in other provinces, Sarabi told Salaam Times.

According to the plan, 12 women from each province will be selected to launch the message of peace first within their network of local families, and then broaden it to the community level, Sarabi said.

Vital role

"Women play the best role in [establishment of] peace because a woman is also a mother and a sister," said Wazhma Safi, a representative from Kunar Province in the Wolesi Jirga (lower chamber of parliament). "And they can invite [to peace] their brothers and their children who are involved in war, hence playing effective roles in the peace process."

Afghan women in the country enjoy a high level of respect, and by extending a motherly invitation to the opposition, they can help in achieving peace, Safi told Salaam Times.

Homaira Saqeb, a women's rights activist in Kabul, welcomed the new initiatives.

"Women, who are more affected by war than others, are in need of greater participation in the [HPC]," she said.

"One of the discussions that the [HPC] should pinpoint is the fight against terrorism," she said. "Those mothers whose children are members of terrorist groups must be informed that there is a difference between jihad and terrorist activities."

Afghan citizens welcome the notion of an increased women's role in the process.

The HPC "should give a greater role to women in leadership and management of peace negotiations," Nurullah, 25, a student at a private university in Kabul, told Salaam Times.

Peace is everyone's dream and mothers can play an effective role in making it come true, said Sadaf, an NGO employee in Kabul.

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