Wrong Exit in Afghanistan

   •    February 1, 2010

This article was originally published by The Tyee.

It’s not what Afghans want, but that didn’t dampen the euphoria about a cheap and easy “exit strategy” from Afghanistan that was the talk of the town leading up to the big international gathering in London last Thursday. Foreign ministers, diplomats and mandarins from more than 60 countries washed into Britain on a tsunami of upbeat messaging: President Hamid Karzai had come up with a bright and shiny new peace-talks plan. This time, it’s going to work. But when the day was over, they had little to show for themselves except the appearance of looking wet and bedraggled.

A single delegation of Afghan women with the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) managed to find its way to London last week. Its submission ended up being the only input that Afghan women were allowed to give the conference delegates. Backed by the Afghan Women’s Network and the Institute for Inclusive Security, UNIFEM expressed its “grave concern” about the way the voices of Afghan women were going unheard.

“The international community should stand behind the women of Afghanistan and elevate their voices, not barter away their rights in the name of short-term peace and stabilization,” said Wazma Frogh, an Afghan human rights activist. Said Mary Akrami, director of the Afghan Women Skills Development Centre: “Afghan women have the most to gain from peace and the most to lose from any form of reconciliation compromising women’s human rights. There cannot be national security without women’s security, there can be no peace when women’s lives are fraught with violence, when our children can’t go to schools, when we cannot step on the streets for fear of acid attacks.”

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