Masculinities and Women, Peace and Security

In July 2015, the government of Afghanistan launched its first UNSCR1325 National Action Plan (NAP), which covers the period 2015-2022. There have been numerous difficulties in terms of NAP implementation, such as the lack of cooperation between ministries and the absence of budgeting and funding for the implementation of the NAP 1325, compounded with the ongoing war, which have hampered implementation and programming in provinces as well as in Kabul. The financial mechanism for implementation is not yet finalized and neither is funding for implementation, and there is a fragmentation of responsibilities for implementation across multiple ministries, which have hampered the second phase of the NAP (which started in 2019). Unfortunately, Afghanistan’s NAP does not address disarmament issues, nor connect the proliferation of weapons with women’s insecurity. Additionally, there is no clear reference on the mechanism for civil society involvement. The necessity of women’s meaningful participation in the Afghan peace process as well as the importance of not backsliding on human rights, including women’s rights, has been a growing topic for discussion over the recent period, particularly during the recent talks which have aimed to bring an end to the decades of war that the people of Afghanistan have suffered. However, as WILPF Afghanistan noted in their submission to the CEDAW committee earlier this year, “Without an inclusive and comprehensive team for peace negotiations, tensions and mistrust in the peace process will continue. The absence of meaningful representation of diverse civil society groups, especially of women, in the peace talks thus far is noticeable”. In 23 rounds of peace talks between 2005 and 2014, women were at the table on only two occasions; the negotiating team that was announced after the November 2018 conference in Geneva had three women, but no civil society representatives. Women were excluded from the US-Taliban talks throughout 2019, as were issues of women’s rights, leading to widespread concern among Afghan women that their human rights would be compromised for the sake of an agreement. On the issue of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), women in Afghanistan face high levels of violence, and the WILPF Afghanistan submission to the CEDAW committee specifically highlighted insurgent violence, attacks on schoolgirls and working women, high levels of rape and domestic violence, as well as widespread physical and sexual abuse by State security forces, forced and child marriage, and honor killings. According to an announcement of the Ministry of Women Affairs, in 2019 there was an 20% increase in cases of domestic violence. Intimidation and violence also undermines women’s participation in political and electoral processes, as evidenced by low rates of women’s turnout in elections, although the 2018 elections anecdotally had an increased rate of women’s participation. This issue links to masculinities, as one of the stated goals of the NAP, as outlined in the introduction of the NAP is: “Engage boys and men in fighting Violence Against Women”. Under the prevention pillar of the NAP’s strategic priorities and objectives, men and boys are also referenced in the strategic objective, “Involve men and boys in the fight against all forms of violence against women”.

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