Women in Peace and Transition Processes: Afghanistan (2001–2005)
The Bonn Agreement, formally entitled the ‘Agreement on Provisional Arrangements in Afghanistan Pending the Reestablishment of Permanent Government Institutions’ was signed on 5 December 2001 and established the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA), and spelled out a timeline towards elections and constitution-making. The timeline included electing a Transitional Authority through an Emergency Loya Jirga (ELJ), a constitution making process through a Constitutional Loya Jirga (CLJ), and finally overseeing parliamentary and presidential elections.
Women had an intermediate influence on the negotiation process. Thanks to the support of the mediators, and national and international actors involved in the process, women were included in each delegation, either as full members or as advisors. Three out of the 25 signatories of the agreement and 40 per cent of those present in the consultative forums set up by the UN to inform the negotiations, were women. Furthermore, Afghan women in the Diaspora especially those in Pakistan, Europe and the US also organized public demonstrations to inform the process.
The Bonn Agreement established a Ministry of Women’s Affairs and included provisions for the inclusion of women in subsequent processes and governing structures, agreeing to the “establishment of a broad-based, gender-sensitive, multiethnic and fully representative government.” Ultimately however, the 2001 Bonn process was rushed, and excluded key actors, namely the Taliban, which generally limited a conducive environment for its implementation. The strong patriarchal structure of Afghan society has also been a limiting factor for women’s influence. Given these constraints, nevertheless, women were able to asset considerable influence on the negotiation and implementation process, enabled by the influence of the international community that ensued women were included in most structures. Security challenges, however, has been the greatest obstacle for women. Women’s rights have suffered targeted attacks from the Taliban among others and it has been an incredible impediment to activists and the rights-based community in Afghanistan in general.