Marking International Women’s Day, the UNAMA issued a statement making a strong case for Afghan women’s presence in the intra-Afghan talks expected to take place in Oslo on March 10, amid doubts that the meeting would actually he held as scheduled in the US-Taliban deal, with rivals for the presidency were both holding swearing-in ceremonies on Monday.
In February, Afghanistan’s Electoral Commission announced incumbent Ashraf Ghani as the winner of September’s presidential election, but his rival Abdullah Abdullah said he and his allies had won and insisted that he would form a government.
Both Abdullah and Ghani have issued invitations to parallel swearing-in ceremonies on Monday.
In Kabul, UNAMA said in a statement that with anticipation building that the door for intra-Afghan peace talks will open, women’s advocacy groups and activists across Afghanistan have focused on developing strategies to protect and advance the gains they have made in social, political, civic and economic life.
“These strategies, backed by the United Nations and coupled with the growing recognition that women must be included in any formal peace negotiations, are expected to yield results: country-wide and community-level ownership, along with the full and meaningful participation in political decision-making among all members of society,” the statement said.
The UN mission in Afghanistan marks International Women’s Day under the global theme of “I Am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights” to leverage individual and collective efforts to make gender equality and women’s rights a living reality, the statement said, while recognizing that Afghan women are “socially and politically undervalued” compared to their male counterparts.
“To create a peaceful and inclusive society, it is essential that Afghan women have access to education, healthcare and decent work, and that they are fully represented in all areas of political decision-making, from parliament to the peace table,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, special UN envoy and head of the UN mission, said in the statement.
“While we have seen significant progress on women’s rights in Afghanistan, including formal legislation and national action plans, we continue to see powerful social and political pushback,” he said.
“This situation must change for Afghan women, and for the benefit of Afghanistan as a nation,” Yamamoto noted.
Recognizing that Afghanistan will be more resilient in the face of conflict when gender equality is prioritized, the UN will continue to support all efforts toward gender equality and all opportunities for women to reclaim their rightful place in all areas of society, the statement said.
The US and the Taliban signed the agreement on February 29 in Doha, Qatar, after 18 years of war that could result in American troops leaving Afghanistan within 14 months.