Women's Human Rights in Post-Conflict Afghanistan

Friday, February 28, 2003


Since the last issue of the newsletter, when we made a call for translations of Resolution 1325, a number of new translations have been added to the PeaceWomen website:

Arabic: html, PDF

Ciluba (Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC): html

Kikongo (DRC): html

Kiswahili (DRC): html

Lingala (DRC): html

Mandarin: PDF

Russian: PDF

The Campaign Continues…
In order to improve public awareness about the Resolution, and to mobilize effectively for its implementation, 1325 must be accessible to as many people as possible, and thus in as many languages as possible.

If any of our readers have translated Resolution 1325 into their own language, know of existing translations, would be interested in translating it into their own language, or know of others who could, please contact us at: 1325news@peacewomen.org

Click here for the PeaceWomen 1325 Translation campaign index page.


Men Must Join Women to End Violence against Women
February 26, 2003 – (WEnews-Commentary) Men must get involved in the fight against violence against women, this author argues. He should know. A former National Football Leaguer, Don McPherson has spent years speaking out for non-violence.

South Africa Begins Getting Tough on Rape
February 24, 2003 – (WEnews) South African prosecutors are adopting a hard-line stance against rape, instituting special courts to address the crime and studying the reasons behind the astounding breadth of the problem.

Women Confront War, Build Peace: Special Report
February 23, 2003 – (WEnews) Women's Enews profiles three women in conflict zones who confront terror by working for peaceful resolutions and reports on the extraordinary price non-combatant women pay for war.

UN Launches First Comprehensive Web Site on Gender and HIV/AIDS
February 21, 2003 – (UN News Service) Furthering efforts to place gender equality at the core of the fight against HIV/AIDS, the United Nations today launched its first comprehensive web portal that promotes understanding, knowledge sharing, and action on the epidemic as a gender and human rights issue.

UNICEF Stresses Protection Of Women, Children As Key To Future of Somalia
February 20, 2003- (UN Wire) UNICEF said yesterday at a meeting of donors in Nairobi that the key to Somalia's future lay in the survival and protection of women and children and noted with optimism that peace talks aimed at ending more than a decade of anarchy were moving forward.

Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams Visits Burma
February 18, 2003 – (Nonviolence International Southeast Asia) Ms. Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate, which she received with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, visited Burma this week, carrying personal messages of support from fellow Nobel Peace laureates Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr. Oscar Arias, Joseph Rotblat, Norman Borlaug, Betty Williams, Mairead McGuire, to Burma's country-bound Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. It was the first visit to Ms. Suu Kyi by another Nobel Peace Laureate since she received the award while under house arrest in 1991.

A Women's Human Rights Perspective on War and Conflict
February 18, 2003 – (WHRnet) Sunila Abeyesekera (Inform-Sri Lanka) discusses in detail the ill effects of war, conflict and fundamentalisms on women. Abeyesekera reiterates the importance of a women's human rights perspective in avoiding and resolving war and conflicts, as she charts out the skills and understanding that women have gained through their struggle against systemic oppression and discrimination and in dealing with violence in their daily lives.

At Least 30 Women Arrested In Peace Protest Outside U.N. Office in Zimbabwe
February 14, 2003 – (UN Wire) At least 30 women and two journalists were arrested today at a Valentine's Day peace protest outside U.N. offices in Harare, Zimbabwe, staged by the group Women of Zimbabwe Arise, which had been declared illegal under the country's new security laws. They planned to deliver a letter to Secretary General Kofi Annan as a symbol of love and peace.

For More News please see: http://www.peacewomen.org/news/newsindex.html

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2. FEATURE ANALYSIS: Women's Human Rights in Post-Conflict Afghanistan

Interview with Ariane Brunet, Rights & Democracy
February 2003

In September 2002, Ariane Brunet, Women's Rights Coordinator for Rights and Democracy (Montreal, Canada), traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan on a women's rights mission to assess the human rights and political situation of the country from a gender perspective.

She was recently interviewed by Women's Human Rights net (WHRnet) about this mission. Below is the full interview as it appears on the WHRnet website:

WHRnet: Violations of the rights of women were often cited by the Bush administration as a justification for attacking Afghanistan and seeking to oust the Taliban regime. More than one year on, has the situation of women in Afghanistan improved or deteriorated and in what ways?

ARIANE BRUNET: It is very unfortunate that George W. Bush used women's human rights as a justification for his administration's attacks on Afghanistan. The women's human rights movement must be alerted to this trend. In effect, he has sought to replace one form of fundamentalism with another. We cannot allow Christian fundamentalists to use women's rights to sell their "crusade." And we must not permit politicians to use women's human rights for their war mongering agendas. Nor should we believe that the war in Afghanistan is over. The so-called "war on terrorism" continues to be the justification for the deployment of American troops in the country. Further, "warlordism" is still very much at the heart of the political system in the vast part of the country. Indeed, for the transitional government, the fact that there are warlords in key positions within the government also indicates that democracy is not yet a defining feature of the political terrain and without democracy peace is tenuous. Women have expressed profound doubts and people generally have a hard time believing in the present government because it includes men with "blood on their hands."

In addition, the militarization of aid is a new phenomenon that has a very strong hold in Afghanistan. It is vitally important to acknowledge that very real problems exist in relation to the militarization of humanitarian assistance. Women need to recognize this new reality within peacebuilding and we have to start thinking how the militarization of aid stops women participating in reconstruction processes and threatens their security. It is imperative that Afghan women take part in ongoing decision-making processes regarding the distribution of humanitarian aid and participate in its distribution and that priority be given to the public provision of food, water, sanitation, health and energy in reconstruction policies.

In terms of broader social development, at the end of 2002, very little had been accomplished and few inroads had been made in addressing critical issues for women such as employment, healthcare, and education. It is true there are many more girls going to schools now. But it is unclear if this represents a very significant improvement over the work of the clandestine schools that operated under the Taliban regime. Recently, the Lord Chief Justice extended warlord Ismail Khan's ban on the co-education of males and females to the whole country. This means that girls cannot be taught by men even though there are not enough qualified female teachers, particularly at high school and university level. More resources are needed to cover girls education. It also means that there are almost Taliban-like restrictions, which in reality dramatically reduce access to education for girls. The international commmunity must protest, otherwise mullahs will see it as a REAL signal that the fundamentalists can do what they like regarding women.

Women have not been included in the planning and decision making processes with respect to a wide range of policy areas affecting them. Now is the time to reform the Afghan judicial system from a gender perspective to ensure that violations against women are taken into account and to ensure their full equality and participation in public and political life. We know that women are fighting for a strong endorsement of women's human rights in the constitution.

Other priorities expressed by Afghan women jurists are:
* Integrate issues relating to violence against women in the main part of the constitution
* Integrate international human rights treaties and CEDAW in the constitution
* Include a progressive and feminist interpretation of the Shari'a in the constitution based on human rights principles
* Ensure that implementation and enforcement articles are included in the constitution
* Ensure that an article is included in the constitution that addresses the discriminatory nature of customary law

WHRnet: In your view what are the affects on women, especially in the Middle East and Central Asia, of the ongoing "war on terrorism"?

ARIANE BRUNET: Women in Central Asia are accustomed to terrorism and suffer from acts of terrorism on an continuing basis. For many years they have listened to lip service only - so long as the terrorism manifested itself in attacks on women who transgressed certain rules or on women's human rights advocates. Now the cynical "war on terrorism" only serves to exacerbate the backlash against women's human rights and the use of terrorism against women's human rights defenders. In the Middle East the so-called "war on terrorism" has served to render invisible alternative approaches to conflict resolution. Women peace activists on the ground have developed invaluable mediation tactics. However, these are being ignored and undermined as the "war on terrorism" promotes the militarization of all societies, especially those where conflict and tension have been an regular feature of daily life. As a result, mediation and conflict resolution approaches are being sidelined in the media and at the United Nations and peace activism on the ground does not have the support it needs to make a difference. Furthermore, the heightened climate of tension and violence fostered by the "war on terrorism" inevitably impacts negatively on women's human rights.

WHRnet: Rights and Democracy is part of a new $500,000 peacebuilding initiative aimed at resourcing women in Afghanistan to "rebuild" their country. What kinds of women's projects will be supported by this endeavor?

ARIANE BRUNET: There are many voids where support is especially needed, including major deficiencies in information sharing and networking structures. Women want information that will help them not only to survive the current difficult phase of reconstruction but also to shape and influence the direction of the country. In a situation where social and communications infrastructures are absent or grossly inadequate it is vital to develop strategies to share information and link women in the different parts of the country. A second area that Rights and Democracy will support is the wider task of education and awareness around women's human rights. We know that awareness of rights is critical ingredient to building a culture of respect for human rights but that the women's human rights are often omitted from mainstream human rights education initiatives. We want to be sure that women's human rights get the attention they need at this important moment when the path of reconstruction is being defined. Another category of activities to be supported includes efforts to improve gender equity and equality in Afghan society more broadly. Finally, the fund aims to encourage and support women's involvement and input in various political processes including constitutional and judicial reforms.

WHRnet: In recent years there have been significant gains in achieving recognition of gender-specific violations in times of war and conflict and of the vital role that women can and should play in conflict prevention and resolution and peacebuilding. One example is Security Council Resolution 1325. Do you think that such developments are making a different to women living in conflict and post-conflict situations on the ground?

ARIANE BRUNET: Unfortunately, as far as the past year is concerned, the answer must be "no." In Afghanistan these developments have had zero impact. The situation is similar in the Great Lakes Region in Africa where the experience of the Urgent Action Fund demonstrates that there are many voids to be addressed before women peace activists can assume their rightful role and be more effective on the ground. There is still a long road to go before the provisions of Resolution 1325 are popularized and translated into real benefits locally. International NGOs need to work on the ground to promote understanding of women's roles in conflict prevention and resolution and peacebuilding. The UN needs to be more active in making the 1325 a reality. And the UN and INGOS have to highlight the work of the local women's human rights activists and take their lead from them.

To read the complete interview on the WHRnet website, visit: http://www.whrnet.org/docs/interview-brunet-0302.html
To read the interview on PeaceWomen, visit: http://www.peacewomen.org/resources/voices/test/arianebrunet.html

For a comprehensive annotated bibliography of books, articles and analyses on women's peace theory and activities, as well as NGO position papers, reports, speeches, statements and tools for organisational building. Please go to: http://www.peacewomen.org/resources/resindex.html

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3. FEATURE PROJECT: The Lysistrata Project - “The first-ever world-wide theatrical event for peace”

New York, NY – (Press Release) On March 3, 2003, the Lysistrata Project will present worldwide readings of Aristophanes' bawdy ancient Greek antiwar comedy Lysistrata. To date, 792 play readings are scheduled in 46 countries and in all 50 U.S. states to voice opposition to the war on Iraq; those numbers increase hourly. Readings will raise money for charities working for peace and humanitarian aid in the Middle East and elsewhere…

Lysistrata tells the story of women from opposing states who unite to end a war by refusing to sleep with their men until they agree to lay down their swords. Powerless in their society, with too many of their sons and husbands being slaughtered in battle, the women take the only tactic available to them: a sex strike.

Fast-forward 2,400 years: swords are now weapons of mass destruction. Faced with the prospect of massive loss of human life -- both Iraqi and American -- Lysistrata Project participants worldwide take a new tactic and add their voices to the mounting clamor of global antiwar protests.

For the full press release, visit: http://www.pecosdesign.com/lys/press.html

For more information about the project, including reading locations and scripts, visit: http://www.pecosdesign.com/lys/

For more PeaceWomen campaigns please visit: http://www.peacewomen.org/campaigns/outreachindex.html

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War and Armed Conflicts
Women's Human Rights net (WHRnet)
February 2003
Niamh Reilly gives an updated overview of the impact of war and armed conflict on women and girls and discusses the international human rights mechanisms that address this problem. The article includes up-to-date facts and figures, resources and links to various online information resources. To read the full document, visit:

Women's Roles in Conflict Prevention, Conflict Resolution and Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Literature Review and Institutional Analysis
Tsjeard Bouta and Georg Frerks, Clingendael Institute
June 2002, posted to INSTRAW website (http://www.un-instraw.org/en/news2.phtml?id=493) January 30, 2003
This Occasional Paper published by the Conflict Research Unit of the Clingendael Institute in the Netherlands identifies seven different roles and positions of women in armed conflict. The institutional analysis analyzes how 16 international organisations address these roles and positions of women in armed conflict in their mandates, policies, structures, instruments and activities and budgets. It outlines specific policy options per organisation for strengthening the position of women in armed conflict and conflict-related interventions. For the full paper (PDF), visit: http://www.clingendael.nl/cru/publications/publications_occ_papers.htm

For a comprehensive annotated bibliography of books, articles and analyses on women's peace theory and activities, as well as NGO position papers, reports, speeches, statements and tools for organisational building. Please go to: http://www.peacewomen.org/resources/resindex.html

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Celebrate the Publication of Women on War: An International Anthology of Writings from Antiquity to the Present
March 4, 2003, 6:30-8pm, Graduate Center, The City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, free admission
This new publication from Feminist Press is being celebrated with readings and presentations by Daniela Gioseffi, Poet, Editor of Women on War, Jean Casella, Publisher/Director, Feminist Press, Molly Peacock, Poet-in-Residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, D.H. Melhem, Poet, Vice President of the International Women's Writing Guild and Pwu Jean Lee, Award-winning translator and poet. To order this book, call (212) 817-7920 or go to http://www.feministpress.org

International Women's Day
March 8, 2003, Washington D.C.
11:00 a.m Rally
1:00 p.m. – March to Encircle the White House
Speakers will include Alice Walker, Vandana Shiva, comedian Janeane Garofalo, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Granny D, Barbara Ehrenreich, Amy Goodman, Rania Masri, Michelle Shocked, feminist theologian Hyun Kyung, Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, Cheri Honkala, Maxine Hong Kingston, Inga Muscio, Terry Tempest Williams, Medea Benjamin, and Starhawk. For further details on the march and rally, see http://www.unitedforpeace.org/women, http://www.codepink4peace.org, call The Women's Peace Vigil at 202-393-5016, or e-mail womens.vigil@verizon.net

Coalition For Peace: Women Take Action-Including Women's Voices at Peace-Tables Worldwide
March 31, 2003, 7-10pm, OISE Auditorium, Toronto, free admission
To celebrate its 10th Anniversary, The Linden School, a feminist school in Toronto (grades 1-12), is presenting this roundtable discussion. Speakers include Michele Landsberg, Toronto Star Columnist and Sally Armstrong, author, journalist and Human Rights activist. Moderated by Judy Rebick, political commentator, journalist, author, academic, the panel will include Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Member of Parliament, Sarah Shteir, Linden Alumna now working for Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (PeaceWomen project), Sheri Gibbings, graduate student at York University and member of PeaceWomen project, Sarah Abu-Sharar, Coalition Against War and Racism, Adeena Niazi, President, Afghan Women's Organization, and Linden Students. For more information about this event, visit The Linden School on the web at: http://www.lindenschool.ca/

Peace Operations Summer Institute: Critical Perspectives
June 8-20, 2003, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia
A graduate level course in modern peace operations offered in partnership by the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre (PPC), the Royal Military College (RMC) and Acadia University, this program focuses on “developing flexible and creative thinking, problem-solving skills and the intellectual responses required by those involved in peace operations as they encounter a complex and diverse spectrum of issues and situations around the world.” The course will include lectures by recognized experts in their fields. Detailed information on the course is available on the POSI website at: http://www.summerpeace.ca. Inquiries about the course including registration should be sent to: continuing.education@acadiau.ca.

For more calendar events please visit: http://www.peacewomen.org/frame/calendar/calendar.html

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This edition of the 1325 PeaceWomen E-News Features:

1. 1325 News for PeaceWomen
2. Feature Analysis: Women's Human Rights in Post-Conflict Afghanistan
3. Feature Project: The Lysistrata Project
4. Feature Resources
5. Calendar Events for PeaceWomen