2.2 women’s access to education increased drastically after

2.2 Women’s Participation
Women’s participation is key for implementing development projects and resolving conflicts
in a better way. As women can have an important role in a country’s peace talks and conflict
resolution (UNSC 2000), women’s support is needed in order to lead Afghanistan forward.
They are needed not just as voters, but as actors, which will enhance stabilization in the security
transition (Calfas 2015). For example, more gender-balanced security forces are not only more
representative for the population, it might also be crucial in managing reports of violence
against women. Women should not only be a source of disputes; they should also have a place
at the table in solving them. With a good constitution, and a committed president and first lady,
Afghanistan is already moving in the right direction. The 2004 constitution introduced a quota
system to guarantee a minimum level of female participation, both at national and provincial
level. There is now a quota guaranteeing women 27% of the seats in parliament, as well as 20%
in the provincial councils (Calfas 2015; Sharan & Wimpelmann 2014). In 2015 there were
approximately 1400 women in Afghan National Police, which makes up only 1 % (Calfas
2015). There are even fewer women in the army, or in the judicial system. The Afghan
Women’s Network (AWN) (2016) reports that there are only 2% women in the security sector
and 9% participating in peace processes. Furthermore, increasing women’s representation at
the local level is also a challenging task.
Women’s inclusion in decision-making both at the central and provincial level has increased
considerably in the past 15 years (AWN 2016). Women’s civic engagement reached a top in
the 2014 elections, with a 37,6 % female votes, and as many as 300 female candidates running
for provincial council seats (Calfas 2015). Women are present in ministries, in the Parliament
and in provincial councils. Girls’ and women’s access to education increased drastically after
2001 and has helped women find suitable jobs in government and civil society. Further, women
are increasingly present at local level through institutions such as Community Development
9
Councils (CDCs) and District Development Assemblies (DDAs). In the CDCs half of the seats
are allocated to women, giving women opportunities to take part in decision-making at
community level and promote their opinions (World Bank 2016). CDCs have enabled women
to play a greater role in local governance, and can help channelling women’s voices to the
government. CDCs have increased education for girls as well as giving women high selfconfidence
(World Bank 2015). At the Fifth National Consultative Conference of Community
Development Councils, more than 30% of the participants were women. Some women
expressed that they play an almost equal role in local conflict resolution as men in many
provinces (World Bank 2015).
In the 388 DDAs that have been established throughout the provinces, 31 % of the members
are women (UNDP 2016). Like the CDCs, the DDAs are local governance initiatives, bringing
the voices of local community members, including women, into community decision-making.
However, there are still not enough female members to meet the quota to the CDCs, either
because they cannot participate or are not willing to. Unfortunately, the ever present threats of
violence and abuse is limiting women’s voices and mobility. Further, the strong patriarchal
attitude in several parts of the country lowers the presence of women in local decision-making.
Despite the progress in the past 15 years, the achievements look fragile (AWN 2016). Women
still suffer from insecurity, discrimination and violence which affects their ability to participate
in the public sphere. Women’s presence in the political sphere is still low compared to men’s,
especially in rural areas. While women are present in the security sector, they have a lower
level of participation than men, and do not take part in decisions and national strategies. Even
though women are physically present in peace councils, they are often not engaged in relevant
peace discussions. For example, there was not a single female representative at the post-conflict
peace talk between the Afghan government and the Taliban in July 2015 (Priyali 2015).
2.3 Legal frameworks
Commitment to gender equality has been a huge part of the development of Afghanistan post2001
(APPRO 2013). Afghanistan has adopted several national policies regarding the role and
the rights of women. For instance, the Afghan government approved the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2003. Following
CEDAW, it was highlighted that many Afghan laws explicitly discriminated women. Thus, it