2021 will be critical year for Afghanistan's future - so it's high time to bring the future of Afghanistan to the table!
The Kabul Peace Forum (KPF), launched earlier this year by Mastooraat and FES Kabul, is a cross-generational effort to enable open conversations on shared experiences of war and conflict, pathways towards an inclusive peace, and to generate a wider public support for reconciliation. KPF aims at providing the space for particularly young civil society activists, academics, media workers and public servants to regularly exchange their views on current political affairs and provide ideas and recommendations for the way forward.
On March 4th, Mastooraat in collaboration with FES organized the first series of Kabul Peace Forum with a
thematic focus “Victim-centered Peace and Transitional Justice”. The forum raised the concerns, fears and
demands of war victims over the Afghan peace process while discussing the implications of transitional
justice. As one of the main objectives of this project – to create a meaningful dialogue among Afghans to talk
about topics which affect them and their future, particularly peace and reconciliation – the first series of
Kabul Peace Forum provided the platform for war victims and Afghans coming from different walks of life to
talk and listen. The followings were discussed in the first series of Kabul Peace Forum:
Fears and Concerns:
Demands/Expectations and Recommendations:
The second series of Kabul Peace Forum had a thematic focus on “Youth and Women.” The event stressed an all-inclusive peace and discussed strategies to include women and youth in political, economic, and social decision-making in Afghanistan. Some 80 people, mostly young students and women, participated in the event and discussed post-settlement scenarios and what the future might hold.
The panelists were Nabila Musleh, Senior Advisor to the High Council for Reconciliation of Afghanistan, Lema Anwari, Founder of Majraa (Afghanistan Youth Volunteers Organization), and Tareq Eqtedary, Founder of Generation Positive Organization, both alumni of the FES YLF network. Sharif Safi, Founder and Managing Director of Mastooraat, moderated the event.
Asked how satisfied she was regarding women’s representation in the Afghan Peace Process, Ms. Anwari said that women and youth had had a minor role in the protracted conflict. However, they are the least heard and included in important decisions and processes. She asked the government and international community to take concrete actions and pave the way for their meaningful participation by strictly implementing quotas agreed upon and at best guaranteed in a potential settlement between the conflict parties. When asked, what the HCNR can do to ensure that women’s rights are guaranteed in a political settlement, Ms. Musleh responded that to enable inclusive peace and that people from all walks of life are consulted, HCNR created several commissions. Acknowledging that it is challenging to meet all youth and women from across Afghanistan physically, she said that the commissions help HCNR to communicate with representatives of youth and women from all areas. “For that, we usually seek help from civil society organizations and other networks which actively work with women, youth, victims of war or other societal segments respectively.” She emphasized that Afghan efforts to promote women’s rights and freedoms go back at least to the times of King Amanullah Khan, but have experienced setbacks over time. “There have been significant achievements over the past two decades”, she said, “but more needs to be done. I hope that a peace deal can build on these gains.”
Mr. Eqtedary, a highly experienced youth activist, stressed that youth bears the responsibility of fighting both for their own future and for a better situation for the next generations. He said “If we don’t roll up our sleeves to build and defend our country, no one else will do it for us. Don’t wait for your rights to be given to you; stand up for it and raise your voice in whatever capacity you are.” According to him, the least that e.g. the government should do is create more opportunities for youth by efficiently fighting corruption. In the ensuing discussion, participants raised the need to pay greater attention to the situation of women in the rural areas and make female and youth participation in negotiations and other formats more meaningful and prevent “tokenism.” Everyone agreed that inclusion is needed to ensure that compromises on the gains of the past decades would not be made quickly and that a political settlement can bring about durable peace.