Afghanistain London Conference 2010 Women Peace & Security - Research Institute Women Peace & Security - Research Institute Women Peace & Security - Research Institute Women Peace & Security - Research Institute
What is Women Peace & Security
Afghan women have played important roles in communal dispute resolution and maintaining social harmony during the history of armed and internal conflict. The traditional and emerging roles in conflict transformation that women have played in their households and communities should be leveraged at national, regional and international levels. Peace and security for Afghan women is about access to justice, access to basic services, reversing violence and discrimination and about a responsive government and an inclusive and peaceful society.  Eventually, this new paradigm of peace and a women’s security will mitigate the risks of potential insurgencies taking shape at community to national levels. Women will only be able to promote and engage in the grassroots peace building when they are empowered and mobilized with the skills and capabilities, which will in turn enhance national security.
WHY A NEW PARADIGM? AN EVIDENT NEED

Afghanistan has been on a new journey of change and progress since 2001. Women have made significant accomplishments and continue to strive for influence in the public sphere. However, women’s participation and inclusion within socio-economic sectors are more acceptable than women’s engagement and leadership in the security sector due to the old paradigm of security that only relies on military and policing infrastructures to bring peace. Dominant patterns of interventions in Afghanistan suggest community engagement is not understood as integral for building and maintaining peace.  The government’s focus has centered on the size of the physical infrastructure of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, lacking attention to the broad range of factors and wide spectrum of stakeholders that need to contribute to building peace and security.

As the country is moving towards a post-conflict reconciliation process, the participation of women as part of the larger society is steadily decreasing, becoming close to non-existent in some areas. This is attributable to the old paradigm of peace and security. This initiative intends to produce high quality research focused on providing the basis for advocacy to promote inclusion and a new paradigm of peace and security. This initiative is about promoting and enabling an inclusive social process in which women contribute towards communal and national cohesion. For women to play such a dynamic role, they also need to be protected by state institutions. Therefore, this initiative will also lobby and advocate for further protection of women peace builders through responsible state institutions that are sensitive to and effective at combating gender based violence and discrimination.

Most often national level decisions around women’s rights and empowerment stem from elite and urban women groups; this practice has resulted in the backlash of women’s rights in Afghanistan. On the contrary, this initiative will strive to bring the grassroots leadership and mobilization of women leaders from the community to the national level. This will in turn improve rural engagement in national peace processes and will facilitate the inclusion of other social groups inclusion into the peace building processes.

At an international level, however, a decade has passed since the first United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (Women Peace & Security) was adopted by the United Nations, but the political will and strategic directions to further engage women in peace building missions and peace processes still remain weak. Experiences in countries like South Africa (post-Apartheid), Liberia, and those affected by the Arab Spring demonstrate the power of greater mobilization of women, particularly young women. Case studies show that women’s leadership in peace building and political peace processes not only substantiates further gender equality but, most importantly, increases the success and sustainability of peace processes. When both men and women come to the ‘table’ with viable and strategic positions, perspectives, and recommendations, then the gender dimensions of peace processes, macroeconomic recovery, security sector reform and transitional justice will also be addressed, and less need for separate and isolated initiatives to add gender dynamics in state building programs.

WOMEN PEACE & SECURITY – RESEARCH & EVIDENCE BUILDING 

Research Institute for Women Peace & Security (RIWPS) referred to as the Institute hereafter is a woman-led initiative that focuses on increasing women’s leadership and inclusion in bringing peace and security to Afghanistan through research and evidence building and also strengthen the advocacy campaigns carried out many other women organizations. The unique aspiration of the Institute aims to engage Afghan women and their strategic participation to improve social cohesion, restore war torn communities, and restore relationships at the grassroots and national levels.

The rational for RIWPS is that Afghan women at the grassroots have important contributions to the stability and community peace building in their traditional and emerging roles. Those contributions need to be documented and promoted for local and national peace & security. RIWPS will document those contributions of women leaders at the grassroots empower them with community mobilization and advocacy efforts and connect them to find and negotiate their spaces at the local governance structures as well as national governance structures.

To accomplish this aim, the Institute will document the perspectives of Afghan women and girls from grassroots and traditional structures through its grassroots research initiaitves; feed those perspectives to national policies and programmes dealing with peace and security. The Institute will promote a new paradigm of understanding peace and security through conducting empirical research, policy analysis, and evidence-based advocacy to change and shape these policies for a peaceful Afghanistan. The research and policy analysis conducted through the Institute will also improve the advocacy initiatives of the women groups.

The vision of the Institute is to advance a new paradigm for peace and security in Afghanistan that is inclusive of women’s perspectives.

The mission of the Institute is to leverage the knowledge of women leaders in grassroots movements, strengthen capacities, and support research that will increase women’s security and the gender-responsiveness of peace building policies, programmes and institutions.

Activities

  1. Conduct research and advocate for the importance, roles, contributions, and perspectives of women around issues of peace, reconciliation and security mechanisms and structures in the country.
  2. Publish, disseminate, and advocate on peace and security policy issues.
  3. Develop periodic and regular policy briefs, policy analysis.
  4. Advocate and lobby on effective approaches to combat sexualized gender based violence and violence against women during conflict and propose mechanisms for protection of women from violence as a prerequisite of peace and security arrangements and agreements.
  5. Organize roundtables, debates, campaigns, toolkits, and position papers for researchers/policy makers and women’s rights campaigners.
  6. Facilitate specialized trainings/mentoring/capacity enhancement programs for women peace builders and activists on issues related to peace and security- conflict resolution, mediation skills and women’s role in peace building. 
  7. Establish platforms for grassroots mobilization of women leaders in any province that RIWPS starts its research and advocacy by engaging with the women organizations and women leaders at the provincial levels.
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