Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dr. Masooda Jalal and 1325

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, "reaffirming the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building, and stressing the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and the need to increase their role in decision- making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution...urges Member States to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict," very clearly calling for international backing of women like Dr. Masooda Jalal, the only Afghani woman to run for the presidency of her country in the last election cycle. She was interviewed in an article entitled "Afghan Women to Obama: We Must Be at the Table!" by Patricia DeGennaro for the Women's Media Center. Dr. Jalal offers a refreshingly new and very strong female voice for peacebuilding in Afghanistan. She continues to insist that her proper place (and the place of other women) is at the negotiating table, as promised by UNSCR 1325, and by common sense.

During our conversation, I asked her what she thought about U.S. policy and talking to the Taliban. She was defiant, saying she has no problem whatsoever with talking to the Taliban. “As long as women are included in the conversation,” she said, “we must be there sitting next to them, then we’ll see.”

She continued by saying, “the Taliban, the looters and warlords, the ‘illegals,’” as she calls them pointing out that they are also the drug lords that international forces are tying to eradicate, “are only powerful because we allowed them to be.”

Yet, the world governments continue to empower them instead of, well, her and others like her. We all stood by while some of the most notorious and brutal mujahidin or Afghan fighters took posts in the government—marginalizing Afghan scholars like Jalal who prefer to give the power to the people.

In ending this post, I would like to again stress the fact that while the international community and the United States have made much about the "plight of Afghani women" and the unconscionable suppression of their rights under the Taliban, very little has been done to engage them in creating a government that will better protect their lives and freedoms. The international community has been guilty of a pervasive paternalism that likes to talk about the protection of women, but still refuses them an equal place at the table, and the legitimacy they deserve as half of Afghanistan's population. This criticism could be expanded more generally to include almost every country in the world. Women like Dr. Jalal are deeply qualified and committed to changing this atrocious inequality of representation. Imagine what a world could be created if the international community actually followed the mandate of 1325. We can make it happen.


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