HBS Policy Brief on Afghan Parliament in the Making

"Discrimination: If you are a warlord, everyone hears your voice. But if you are a woman, at least you should shout for four times [so that one] hear[s] your speech." (Raihana Azad MP)

A new policy brief from the German foundation Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBS) traces the nexus of gender and politics in the second post-2001 Wolesi Jirga. This policy brief by Dr. Andrea Fleschenberg and Abdullah Athayi is building on a previous study from 2009 on "Afghanistan's Parliament in the Making - Gendered Understandings and Practices of Politics in a Transitional Country".

Dr. Andrea Fleschenberg, DAAD Long Term Guest Professor at Quaid-i- Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan, and Abdullah Athayi LL.M, program coordinator for Foreign/Security Policies and Democratization with the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, base their analysis on an interview sample with civil society activists, bureaucrats and parliamentarians.

After more than a decade of an international intervention and close to the proclaimed second post-2014 transition phase, women's political participation remains precarious and volatile in Afghanistan despite inroads made. Regardless of violence and discrimination faced by society and politicians, women participate at all levels of Afghan society and politics – as voters, candidates, lawmakers, council members, ministers, governors, bureaucrats, civil society activists, members of the security forces or the judiciary. Many women parliamentarians were reelected and became more experienced as lawmakers; others moved from civil society or provincial councils into national politics, trying to make a difference for Afghanistan's people, in particular women. Discriminatory attitudes among key power-brokers, opinion- and decision-makers, continuously high levels of insecurity and threat along with a decreasing political interest and will of national and international key actors to support gender policies and women's political mainstreaming are some of the key obstacles identified.

Women activists and lawmakers demand due diligence for promises made, inroads built, spaces carved out and steps to be taken to ensure a more peaceful post-2014 Afghanistan. For them, their sociopolitical struggle as lawmakers needs to be supported by responsible intervention and transition actors – be it within Afghanistan's political system and during peace negotiation processes or at regional and international levels.


To download the policy brief, please click here.

Photo by freeking.

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