In Bonn, A Call for Afghan Women’s Rights and Government Participation

“We are not waiting any longer to be invited to sit at these tables where peace is being discussed and the reconstruction of our economy,” said Sima Wali, a feminist delegate to the United Nations talks on Afghanistan in Bonn and Vice President of Sisterhood is Global. Three Afghan women are now participating as delegates in the Bonn talks, and three women are participating as senior advisors. Wali and many other delegates are pushing for the restoration and enforcement of women’s rights as well as leadership roles for women in any new Afghan government. “We have not been destroyers in the war,” said Wali. “We are builders and creators and we need to play a part in rebuilding.”

Women members of the European Union attended part of the talks to lend their support for Afghan women’s political participation. “We ask the delegations in Bonn to take the opportunity of this new framework to open doors for women’s rights as part of the best way to build a peaceful and developed Afghanistan,” said Anne-Marie Lizin from the Belgian Women’s Council. Male delegates, however, were speechless when Britt Theorin of Sweden suggested that women should hold forty percent of seats in the new Afghan government. Wali is also pushing for significant numbers.

Emma Bonino, another member of the European Union from Italy, is further showing her support of Afghan women by organizing a World Day of Fast & Nonviolence for Women in the Provisional Afghan Government. More than 5000 people, including nearly 200 dignitaries, from over 100 countries will participate in the fast tomorrow. Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority, spoke via phone at a press conference in Rome giving her support for the day of fasting.


Reuters, 11/29/01; New York Times, 11/30/01; World Day of Fast Press Release, Feminist Majority

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