Tadamichi highlights role of Afghan women in peace, security

The following is a transcript of the statement delivered by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto on the Role of Women in Peace and Security in Afghanistan.

Dr. Sima Samar, Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission; H.E. Yasin Khan, Governor of Helmand province; Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;

UNAMA is honored to join you this morning in Helmand Province on the occasion of this public hearing of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission’s National Inquiry on the Role of Women in Peace and Security in Afghanistan. We congratulate the Commission on this important initiative and look forward to the achievement of its objectives.

I would also like to thank you for the opportunity to share our thoughts at a moment when peace should become a more real possibility compared to any time in the recent past. We, as the UN, strongly believe that women must and need to play a key role in the process. The UN stands for human rights, including the principle of non-discrimination and equality between women and men which is enshrined in many UN treaties, and Afghanistan is a party to most of them. We will stand by the people of Afghanistan to ensure that this principle is not compromised.

I would like to highlight a few points we believe are important from a legal perspective.

Firstly, when Afghanistan became a Member State of the United Nations in 1946, Afghanistan signed the United Nations Charter, agreeing to the precepts of “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”

Secondly, Afghanistan is a signatory to 7 out of 9 core international human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which it ratified in 2003. It obliges the State to ensure that all Afghan women are not discriminated against – in all spheres of life. This obligation is reflected in Afghanistan’s Constitution, national laws and policies.

Thirdly, Afghanistan’s Constitution of 2004 enshrines Afghanistan’s international commitments to observe the United Nations Charter, international treaties that Afghanistan is a party to and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All these international instruments clearly stipulate equality between men and women.

I would now like to draw your attention to the UN’s focus on the Women, Peace, and Security agenda.

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 is at the heart of this agenda. The resolution clearly asserts that women’s leadership and the promotion of women’s rights are priorities for international peace and security.  Resolution 1325 has placed women’s meaningful participation at the core of peacebuilding, conflict prevention and recovery.

Women’s participation in peace and security efforts contributes to more effective responses to complex situations. Women play a critical role in preventing conflict and sustaining peace. Building and sustaining peace needs women’s voices and leadership. Many studies show that when women are included in peace processes, peace agreements are more likely to be more durable.

There are different models of women’s inclusion and participation in peace processes. These range from direct representation, consultative mechanisms, commissions and high-level problem-solving workshops, to public decision-making. Furthermore, a peace process is more likely to be successful and lasting when a combination of modes of inclusion are introduced throughout the process. As the Governor stated, there is a strong need for the peace process to be sustainable. It is therefore important that we focus on women’s role in the peace process. Women’s participation is very important for the sustainability of peace.

Respect for women’s rights, women’s equal access to justice,  jobs and to property rights, women’s equal participation in public decision-making, and women’s participation in peace building and reconciliation are the best ways to invest in long-term peace.

Over the past 18 years there has been commendable progress in Afghanistan. However, some of these changes have come more slowly for women and girls, especially in the rural areas.

More specifically, throughout the country, the majority of women across all age groups still face significant challenges related to education, employment, justice, access to public spaces and protection from gender-based violence.

It is necessary to preserve the advances in women’s rights and to continue to work on improving the status of women in the country by identifying the next steps for the way forward. Women’s rights and indeed all human rights must not be traded away in any peace process.

UN strongly believes in an inclusive process. There has never been a more opportune time than now for all Afghan women and men, to work together – as equals and without discrimination – to ensure women’s real and meaningful participation in ‘peace and security’ decision-making processes and at decision-making tables. It is vitally necessary if there is to be real, inclusive and sustainable peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.

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