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Peace and the Afghan woman

Oct 04, 2011

Engaging Afghan women in the peace, reconciliation and transition processes will safeguard women’s hard-won civil freedoms and human rights in Afghanistan, says ActionAid’s new report A Just Peace?

A Just Peace? The legacy of war for the women of Afghanistan

Published by: ActionAid, October 2011

In its recent report, A Just Peace? The legacy of war for the women of Afghanistan, ActionAid polled 1000 women across Afghanistan to obtain their opinions about living through the last 10 years of war and the current reconciliation process.


Ten years on, international troops have started to leave Afghanistan, with a full withdrawal expected by 2014-15. At the same time the US and other governments, as well as the Afghan government, are seeking peace talks with the Taliban, with the aim of bringing them into a political process that secures a lasting national settlement. It is a critical time for Afghanistan, but particularly for Afghan women who fear they could lose the fragile gains in women’s rights made since the fall of the Taliban. This report highlights the vulnerability of women in Afghanistan through various case studies.

Key Findings

66 % of women said they feel safer now than they did 10 years ago.

Nine out of ten women in Afghanistan are worried about the Taliban returning to government believing it would risk the gains made for women in the past ten years.

Of those who fear a return of the Taliban, one in five cited their daughter's education as the main concern.

72 % of Afghan women believe their lives are better now than they were 10 years ago, while 37 % think Afghanistan will become a worse place if international troops leave.

Women in Afghanistan who have stood up for women's rights in the past ten years, including teachers, female politicians and activists are now afraid for their own safety if the Taliban return to power, with some saying they will be forced to leave the country.

The biggest fear of women under 30 was sexual assault (40% of respondents) and women of all ages were more fearful of sexual assault (30% of respondents) than abduction, kidnapping or being caught in an explosion combined (24%).

Four out of 10 of the women surveyed never leave their village or neighbourhood.

Nearly 60% of Afghan women said they voted in the last parliamentary elections but one in 10 of those surveyed cast their vote as directed by their husband or father, while for one in 100 their father or husband actually physically cast their vote for them.

Of the 40% who didn’t vote, one in eight admitted this was due to not being granted permission by their family to do so.


The report called on the UK government and the international community to protect women who have defended women's human rights in Afghanistan in the last ten years, to support women's organisations with direct, long-term funding and to ensure that women's voices and views are heard.

The international community can also support Afghan women through deeper engagement with women’s civil society and community-based organisations. Direct funding to women’s organisations to build their capacity as advocates and leaders will enable funds to aid transformation to a more democratic society, not just facilitate transition without the promise of sustainable change.

In addition the international community should broaden diplomatic efforts to include consultations and information sharing with women’s organisations. Amplifying the concerns of women’s organisations and ensuring women’s voices are heard is a valuable role the international community can play.

Global leaders should provide long-term support for programmes to encourage women to enter and remain in public life, including capacity-building and local networking initiatives, recommends the report.

Source : ActionAid
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