Women for Women International Calls for Women’s Inclusion in Afghanistan Peace Talks

For Immediate Release

Contact: Dena Gudaitis 202.521.9607

Women for Women International Calls for Women’s Inclusion in Afghanistan Peace Talks

Women’s voices and contributions are critical for establishing lasting peace, organization’s leaders say.

Monday, January 11, 2016, Washington, DC – Afghan women negotiators must be included in all talks to negotiate a final peace agreement, Women for Women International said today, following international meetings to restart the Afghanistan peace process. During the talks between Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the United States, no women were present in the Afghan delegation.

“Around the world, we see women make critical contributions to peace-building – they share unique perspectives of conflict and ensure negotiations address the issues feeding instability and violence. The fact is, peace processes simply work better when women are involved,” says WfWI CEO Jennifer L. Windsor. “In Afghanistan, women must have a meaningful role as active participants in the peace process to ensure their rights and the progress they have made over the past 15 years are protected.”

Since 2001, women have made tremendous progress in closing gender gaps in health, education, and political participation. Maternal mortality has declined by 75 percent,1 and nearly 3.3 million girls now attend school who would not have had the opportunity to do so under the Taliban regime.2 In April 2014, 2.4 million women voted in elections that resulted in 97 women elected to provincial councils,3 and women hold 28 percent of parliamentary seats.4

Yet this progress remains fragile. As the Taliban controls more territory now than at any time since 2001, women’s participation in peace talks is critical to ensure a comprehensive peace process that continues to protect women’s rights and equality.

“Women are more involved than ever before actively contributing to Afghanistan’s economy, politics, and society. This is their country and their future at stake in these peace talks,” says WfWI-Afghanistan Country Director Mandana Hendessi. “There is a real concern that marginalizing women from peace talks could have a far-reaching, negative impact for women at all socio-economic levels.”

For the past 14 years, Women for Women International has committed to investing in women who struggle with extreme poverty and exclusion from opportunities for work, education, healthcare, and participation in their communities. More than 102,000 women have been served to date.

“Through our yearlong program, women come together, find their voices, and come to recognize their value as citizens in their country,” says Hendessi. In 2014, nearly 98 percent of WfWI graduates in Afghanistan reported voting in elections, compared to just 41 percent before starting the program. More than one in five reported joining a local women’s association, and 95 percent said they have educated another woman on her rights. “This progress is incredibly important in building local, ground-up support for women’s rights and equality. It is critical that the peace process reflects these positive, incremental changes we see happening in women’s lives across the country.”

About Women for Women International

Since 1993, Women for Women International (WfWI) has provided women survivors of war, and conflict with resources to move from crisis and isolation to stability and empowerment. WfWI delivers these resources through a tiered, yearlong program that begins with direct financial aid and emotional support. Participants also learn about their legal rights; receive life-skills training such as health awareness, numeracy, budgeting and saving, decision-making and negotiation, and civic participation; learn business and vocational skills; and gain access to income-generating activities where they can apply those skills and begin moving towards economic stability.

Along with helping more than 429,000 women in the past 20 years to rebuild their own lives and those of their families and communities after war, WfWI uses its voice to call global attention to the unique role that women play in advancing peace throughout society. WfWI works in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Sudan. To learn more, please visit www.womenforwomen.org.

1. UNFPA, 2015
2. Brookings Institution, 2015
3. USAID, 2014
4. World Bank, 2015