Afghanistan adopted its first National Action Plan (NAP) in 2015, for the period 2015-2018 and 2019-2022, to be implemented in two phases. The NAP was developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which serves as the head of the Steering Committee that will work in collaboration with other government agencies, civil society, and international organisations for the NAP’s implementation and monitoring. The NAP was developed to address the challenges women face in the aftermath of war and conflict in Afghanistan, and is organised under the primary pillars of UNSCR 1325: participation, protection, prevention, and relief and recovery. Nevertheless, the NAP does not address disarmament issues, nor does it connect the proliferation of weapons with women’s insecurity, despite the fact that the implementation of the NAP is being undertaken within the context of the ongoing conflict. Additionally, there have been numerous difficulties in terms of resourcing the implementation of the NAP.
Afghanistan reported on the implementation of its NAP, as well as WPS commitments, in its national reporting for Beijing+25 and in preparation for CSW64 (2020). Specifically, the country provided the following updates, among others:
- Comparative analysis of year 2016-17 to 2018 shows that remarkable progress has been made towards adopting and implementing NAP for women, peace and security … Security situation has changed significantly for better in period at national and regional levels, finances and allocations of budgets are completed in 2017 for implementing the plan. Capacity building of points for NAP completed in 2017 with technical assistance from UNWOMEN. Provincial resourcing saw slow progress because of finalizing of national financing mechanism. However, 2017 Status Report on the Afghanistan’s National Action Plan shows considerable Policy coordination came through the formation of steering committees and their meetings on quarterly basis. (p. 81)
- The High Peace Council (HPC) reports in the 2017 Status Report on the Afghanistan’s National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 that their five-year strategic plan center’s around women’s participation in peace, reconciliation and reintegration in Afghanistan. In addition to the achievements mentioned above, Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) reported that there is a roster of 66 women covering 34 provinces in Afghanistan. The women on the roster participated in peace negotiations with the armed opposition both in Afghanistan and abroad. (pp. 81-82).
Afghanistan has experienced varying forms of armed conflict since the past five decades, including civil wars and the US invasion of the country in 2001. Under the Taliban regime, which lasted from 1996 until 2001, women were banned from participating in public life, including access to education, healthcare, and employment. While women made a number of gains after the collapse of the Taliban regime, women’s meaningful participation in the Afghan peace process, as well as not backsliding on human rights, including women’s rights, is of critical importance. During the 23 rounds of peace talks between 2005 and 2014, women were included at the peace table in only two occasions. Furthermore, 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. In 2020, there were four women among the 21-member government negotiating team in the intra-Afghan talks.
In 2019, Afghanistan was among the top 15 countries in the world with the biggest increase in their military expenditure, with a 20% increase in its military spending. Additionally, in 2019, Afghanistan was among the top 30 largest importers of arms.