We Must Confront Gendered Violence in War to Achieve Peace in Afghanistan

“During times of conflict, men and women experience war different,” Megan Corrado wrote for Ms. in July, delineating the need to include women at the negotiation table in Afghanistan. “These [gendered] traumas impact every aspect of the social fabric and must be recognized in the creation of accountability and reconciliation mechanisms in peace agreements.”

Later in August, Suzie Abdou critiqued the Trump administration’s new “path forward” in Afghanistan by pointing out how current U.S. foreign policy fails to consider—no less protect the rights of—Afghan women, while Leila Milani urged the U.S. government to stop ignoring gender when constructing foreign policy.

More recently, Miguel Howe and Farhat Popal reported at The Hill about the gendered violence of war and why centering Afghan women in post-war efforts is vital for creating sustained peace and equality:

Importantly, Afghan women’s inclusion in the process of building this future is essential to the effectiveness of peacebuilding, and advancing security interests. Evidence shows that women improve the process and outcomes of peace talks by promoting dialogue and trust, bridging divides and mobilizing coalitions, raising issues that are vital for peace, and prioritizing gender equality. Gender equality and women’s economic empowerment are also strongly tied to prosperous and peaceful societies.

Unfortunately, a 2014 study by Oxfam found that in 23 rounds of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban since 2005, only one woman from the government was present on two occasions. No women have been included in discussions between international negotiators and the Taliban, and it is unclear if, or to what extent, women’s interests were represented by others.

These pieces suggest the importance of recognizing the gendered nature of war, specifically the heightened violence women experience at the hands of both the state and patriarchal norms, and call on the Trump administration to include women in (re)building process. After all, Afghan women should be the architects of their own futures.

To read the full report in The Hill, click here.


Taliah Mancini is an editorial intern at Ms. Magazine.