Shadow Afghan Summit Focuses on Women's Voices
The Shadow Summit hosted by Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) brought women's voices to the NATO Summit. Featured speakers, Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Ambassador at Large for Women's Global Melanne Verveer, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-D), and Afghan Women's Leaders, Afifa Azim, director and co-founder of the Afghan Women's Network, and Manizha Naderi, executive director, Women for Afghan Women, and Mahbouba Seraj, also of the AWN, all said women's participation and concerns must be included to ensure an enduring peace, women's rights and advancement, and progress for all Afghans.
"We have to ensure that our commitment to Afghan women does not end as our troops come home," said Congresswoman Schakowsky, reported the Christian Science Monitor. The open letter (see PDF) released by AIUSA and signed by 48 Afghan, US, and British women leaders urged Afghan women's leadership and participation be front and center in all the transition planning and execution and urged the adoption of a plan for protecting and advancing Afghan Women's Rights.
The eight step plan includes not only women's participation but also that all negotiation teams include at least 30% women in the "peace" talks; that any agreements with the Taliban include guarantees of women's rights, a creation of a trust fund set aside for women and administered by women to protect women's rights and support civil society, and the enforcement of anti-violence against women's and women's rights laws. The US/Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement (see PDF) signed by Presidents Obama and Karzai on May 1 includes a guarantee of women's rights and advancement of women.
Manizha Naderi, who did not sign the open letter, issued a statement on behalf of Women for Afghan Women and the Feminist Majority Foundation. The two organizations warned that negotiating with the Taliban will not work and will produce disastrous results. Eleanor Smeal, president of the FMF, signed the joint statement and also signed the AIUSA open letter. "We do not believe the negotiations will work but if they take place (all talks have been suspended now) they must include women and the guarantee listed in the AIUSA statement," said Eleanor Smeal.
Media Resources: Amnesty International Open Letter 5/20/2012; Women for Afghan Women and Feminist Majority Foundation Letter 5/20/2012; Christian Science Monitor 5/20/2012