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Women from India and Pakistan Appeal to their Governments to support Afghan women’s rights at the peace talks

Online Petition

Wednesday 30 September 2020, by siawi3


Women from India and Pakistan Appeal to their Governments to support Afghan women’s rights at the peace talks

29 September


Women from India and Pakistan Appeal to our Governments to support Afghan women and protect their rights at the ‘intra Afghan talks in Doha so as to build a stable peace in Afghanistan and for all of us in the region.

We, women from India and Pakistan appeal to our governments seated as influential participant/observers around the crucial intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha to honour their national and international obligations and support Afghan women and their rights. Building sustainable peace demands inclusivity. The desires, hopes and hard-won rights of the women of Afghanistan as determined by them, need to be respected and safeguarded. They have the greatest stake in ensuring that peace endures. Peace with Afghan women incorporating their needs and perspectives is a necessity for a stable peace.

We women of India and Pakistan have a direct stake in durable peace with justice and respect for human rights in Afghanistan. Instability in Afghanistan will directly affect Pakistan and India: widen the space for extremists to misuse ethnic, religious and linguistic differences to create division and conflict within our countries and between our countries. Conflict and suppression of human rights will propel masses of people to flee across borders and produce humanitarian and human rights crisis in the region. Instability will recreate the conditions for geo-strategic global interests to exacerbate tensions in South Asia. Such escalation of tension and violence will lead to increasing militarisation our societies and economies and and challenge our democratic governance structures.

We share with our Afghan sisters the anxiety that these conditions will strengthen the already prevalent hyper masculine militarist (misogynist) patriarchal culture that is undermining respect for human rights and in particular women’s rights in the countries of the region. It is distorting our development priorities especially at a time when our countries are confronting the unprecedented public health crisis of the Covid 19 pandemic. We women recognise the value and imperative of working regionally across borders for the rights based development of our region but intensifying conflict and instability will destroy that possibility and necessity.

Our governments recognise gender equality as an important instrument for economic growth and women’s empowerment, and it sits high on Pakistan and India’s domestic and international development agenda. Within our countries women’s struggles for rights have achieved important institutional capacities, arrangements and laws for ensuring gender equality. Constitutional guarantees provide for equal rights and opportunity, prohibit gender discrimination and enable affirmative action in the form of quotas. Also Pakistan and India have obligations on achieving gender equality under international treaty bodies and normative frameworks - CEDAW, Beijing Platform for Action, UNSC 1325+ and Child Rights Convention. These obligations are both inward and outward looking.

We women of Pakistan and India expect our foreign policies to reflect our constitutional values and our national and international commitments to women’s rights and human rights

Accordingly we recognise with appreciation India Foreign Minister Jaishankar’s recent reiteration of India’s support for women’s rights and minority rights in Afghanistan on the occasion of the Doha talks. It follows upon the emphasis on gender equality in India’s official development assistance in Afghanistan. India’s former Ambassador in Afghanistan, Jayant Prasad iterated the importance of empowering women as agents of stability and progress. “For the consolidation of peace, women have a key role in ensuring that the process of reconstruction is not disrupted and the positive transition, currently underway, is not reversed. In most post-conflict situations, and Afghanistan is no exception to this general trend, women’s active and constructive role as potential peace builders tends to be overlooked” (Seminar Magazine 2011).

In Pakistan and all other countries in the region, and amongst the international actors, there is an articulated recognition that ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan must normalize for lasting peace and stability in the entire interdependent region. Even as the dwindling tension-laden political climate between Afghanistan and Pakistan continues to hover, there is this deeply rooted affinity and a common thread that ties women of the two countries together to act at the local, national and regional levels. Not only in the present but Pakistani civil society organizations, human rights activists and defenders have continued to raise their voices to advocate for Afghan women’s equal rights and their integration and leadership in policy discourses and processes and to fight against discrimination and exclusion of women. Notwithstanding, prominent women rights defenders from Afghanistan and Pakistan have jointly called on their governments to push for the inclusion of women in any peace processes for easing bilateral tensions and resolving the protracted Afghan conflict through peace negotiations.

Human rights activists in Pakistan and India continue to emphasize that women’s meaningful participation in any renewed peace initiative is imperative to reverse the trends and attain peace and stability in the country. Marginalisation of women’s participation and perspectives from democratic processes and peace building has resulted in derogation of democracy, inequality and injustice in the region and globally.

Pakistan and Indian governments are well placed to strengthen the voices of Afghan women at Doha to defend their equal rights and that of vulnerable groups to achieve a peace that enables the wellbeing of all. Support to Afghan women to politically transform the peace negotiations to ensure equality in all power relations especially the relations between women and men.

An inclusive peace in Afghanistan will ensure peace in our region.

Rita Manchanda, New Delhi

Rukhshanda Naz, Peshawar