HRW stresses women's participation in Bonn event
KABUL (PAN): A human rights group warned on Sunday Afghan women activists were at risk of being sidelined at the important second Bonn conference on the country's future, penciled in for December 5 in Germany.
The security transition, negotiations to seek a peace agreement with the Taliban and relationships between Afghanistan and other countries after 2014 -- issues critical to the rights of women are high on the agenda.
Human Rights Watch said: "The Afghan government and its international backers say that women's rights are one of their ‘red lines’ as they plan for the withdrawal of international forces."
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, asked in a statement: "If this is the case, why are Afghan women struggling to get a seat at the table in Bonn?"
With only five weeks to go, the Afghan government is yet to confirm women's inclusion in the government’s delegation and conference organisers have not provided a specific speaking slot for representatives from women’s rights groups.
"The Afghan government’s key donors and facilitators of the conference, including Germany and the United States, do not appear to have made women’s rights a priority for the meeting," the HRW statement said.
Women’s rights activists, working through the Afghan Women’s Network, have developed a consensus platform to address the three main agenda items and named a delegation to communicate the message. But the team has not been invited to Bonn to attend as full participants.
Conference organisers say women’s issues can be addressed by a separate civil society delegation, which has been given three minutes to speak. Civil society groups are likely to focus on a broad set of issues that complement but do not specifically address women’s rights.
"All countries planning to participate in the conference should raise with the Afghan government the importance of women’s participation and make clear that their delegates expect to hear from women leaders," Human Rights Watch said.
Germany was urged to exercise its influence as the host and as a country that contributes troops and aid to Afghanistan to convince the Karzai government to include the women’s group as a full participant and provide a speaking slot.
The rights watchdog asked the Afghan government to ensure the delegation drew on the resources of women leaders in Afghanistan. It was important for women leaders to be involved in governance, HRW stressed.
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