Bucharest, 10 October 2011 - WOMEN CAN PLAY A CRITICAL ROLE FOR THE FUTURE OF AFGHANISTAN, NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY TOLD
Women must be given the same rights as men to participate in building peace and stability in Afghanistan, a leading Afghan NGO representative told the closing plenary session of NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly in Bucharest.
"You can’t build peace leaving half of the people out", said Samira Hamidi, country director of the Afghan Women’s Network.
She spoke to the Assembly during a panel on Gender and Security that focused on implementation of UN resolution 1325 which condemns violence against women in conflicts and urges UN member states to support their participation in peace negotiations and in post-conflict reconstruction.
The Afghan Women’s network is an umbrella group of 11 non-governmental organizations, founded in Beijing in 1995 and including nearly 5,000 eminent women from within Afghanistan, working to ensure the equal participation of women in Afghan Society.
"We are playing a critical role in being part of solutions not problems, starting from our homes. We are the key actors for bringing up children with an ideology of peace and stability, rather than war and conflict”, Hamidi told the parliamentarians.
In the context ofAfghanistan, women’s groups and movements can play a vital role to raise awareness at the community level of the importance of maintaining peaceful societies, she added.
Women’s organizations "should be included in designing, evaluating and monitoring security indicators which govern the pace of transition", said Hamidi. She also presented a series of recommendations for a successful transition in Afghanistan after the end of the NATO-led military mission, stressing that the process should heed the voices of concerns of all Afghans.
The issue of gender and security, from a military point of view, was also addressed by Maj. Gen. Karl Engelbrektson, the Swedish Military Representative to the EU and NATO.
In every society women play an important role, "yet we need special UN Security Council resolutions to come to the conclusion that we need to include the whole society," he regretted.
UN resolutions demanding immediate and complete halt to acts of sexual violence against civilians in conflict zones "serve as orders for us in the military community from the highest political level" and have to be implemented at all levels, Engelbrektson added. As a practical step, he proposed the naming of a strong gender adviser close to the commander of all international military missions.