Afghanistan’s women historically have mediated in conflicts among families and tribes, their role often seen as a last resort to stop bloodshed. That tradition has been eroded by four decades of war and the increased influence of more restrictive cultural ideas from neighboring countries and the Middle East. But from Kabul to the mountains of Kunar province, activist Afghan women are reclaiming their place in peace processes. On October 25, USIP hosted Afghanistan’s first lady, Rula Ghani, for a discussion on the evolution of women’s roles in fostering peace amid one of Asia’s longest current wars.

U.S. Institute of Peace is on Mixlr

Today Afghan women are claiming their place in peace processes, playing more active roles in peacebuilding at national and local levels. Women are members of the government’s High Peace Council and in 2015 women participated in preliminary talks with the Taliban in Oslo, Norway. In the eastern province of Kunar, a jirga, or assembly, of elderly women held talks at the houses and hideouts of insurgent fighters to persuade them to renounce violence.

As first lady, Rula Ghani has worked to foster peace efforts, notably by women. In May, she chaired an international symposium in Kabul on reviving women’s traditional peacemaking roles in Afghanistan. In her appearance at USIP, she discussed her work in empowering women as agents of peace.

Continue the conversation on Twitter with #WomenPeacemakers.

Speakers

Nancy Lindborg, Moderator
President, United States Institute of Peace

H.E. Rula Ghani, Speaker
First Lady of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), Panelist
53rd Congressional District of California, U.S. House of Representatives

Palwasha Kakar, Panelist
Senior Program Officer, United States Institute of Peace

Related Publications

The Fatemiyoun Army: Reintegration into Afghan Society

The Fatemiyoun Army: Reintegration into Afghan Society

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

By: Ahmad Shuja Jamal

Since 2013, as many as 50,000 Afghans have fought in Syria as part of the Fatemiyoun, a pro-Assad force organized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Based on field interviews with former fighters and their families, this Special Report examines the motivations of members of the Afghan Shia Hazara communities who joined the Fatemiyoun as well as the economic and political challenges of reintegrating them into Afghan society.

Civilian-Military Relations; Fragility & Resilience

What Can Make Displaced People More Vulnerable to Extremism?

What Can Make Displaced People More Vulnerable to Extremism?

Thursday, March 14, 2019

By: Belquis Ahmadi; Rahmatullah Amiri; Sadaf Lakhani

As the international community works to prevent new generations of radicalization in war-torn regions, debate focuses often on the problem of people uprooted from their homes—a population that has reached a record high of 68.5 million people. Public discussion in Europe, the United States and elsewhere includes the notion that displaced peoples are at high risk of being radicalized by extremist groups such as ISIS. Scholars and peacebuilding practitioners have rightly warned against such generalizations, underscoring the need to learn which situations may make uprooted people vulnerable to radicalization. A new USIP study from Afghanistan notes the importance of specific conditions faced by displaced people—and it offers indications suggesting the importance for policy of supporting early interventions to stabilize the living conditions of displaced people after they return home.

Violent Extremism

Afghanistan Talks: No Women, No Peace

Afghanistan Talks: No Women, No Peace

Friday, March 1, 2019

By: Belquis Ahmadi

As talks between the U.S. and the Taliban raise hopes for peace in Afghanistan, the country’s women fear another—and related—possibility: That their hard-won rights to participate in the nation’s political and economic life could again be washed away by the Taliban’s rigid views on gender.

Gender; Peace Processes

Intra-Afghan Peace Negotiations: How Might They Work

Intra-Afghan Peace Negotiations: How Might They Work

Friday, February 22, 2019

By: Sean Kane

Recent positive developments in the Afghan peace process have renewed hopes that the country’s 17-year-old conflict could come to a close. Direct negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban, however, are likely to involve complex constitutional questions. This Special Report provides...

Peace Processes

View All Publications