Friends of Afghan Women Ambassadors’ Group Statement on International Women’s Day Kabul, Afghanistan, 8 March 2021

On International Women’s Day each year, we celebrate the strength, resilience and perseverance of Afghan women. This year, the stakes are higher than ever as Afghans work to end the violent conflict and establish a sustainable peace. As international friends of Afghan women, today we commend the commitment shown by them at all levels – in communities, provinces, nationally and internationally – to build peace and prosperity for the future of Afghanistan. We support the loud and consistent calls of Afghan women for a ceasefire, and we condemn the continued targeted attacks on and threats against women human rights defenders, civil society activists, peacebuilders and journalists. Afghan women carry the pain of the conflict in their everyday lives, and we support their calls for victims-centred approaches to peace and justice. Women from across Afghanistan have reaffirmed that peace not only means the absence of war, but freedom from all forms of violence and coercion, respect for human dignity, justice, human rights, and equality for all. We support the calls, by Afghan men and women alike, that the gains made by women are preserved in a negotiated political settlement. We have heard Afghan women tell us of the importance of religious and community leaders raising their voices for women’s fundamental rights to engagement in all social spheres, to education and work opportunities, and to protection from violence wherever it may take place. We therefore welcome the many statements by Afghan, regional and global ulema that affirm the centrality of women’s rights within Islam. Experience from around the world shows that sustainable peace depends on women’s equal and meaningful engagement in politics, governance, institution building, the rule of law, the security sector and reconstruction efforts. Women play a key role in bringing diverse perspectives to the negotiating table and developing consensus. We urge all parties to the conflict to make more space in leadership and peace structures for women – particularly in decision-making roles, but also as advisors and experts in a range of fields. Afghan women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in the peace process will be essential to a durable political settlement and the rebuilding of the country. Afghan women have bravely stepped up – often at great personal risk – to call for a sustainable and just peace. We reiterate our support for them. We share their hopes for a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan – today, and every day in the future.
The Friends of Afghan Women Ambassadors’ Group is comprised of the chief representatives in Kabul of: Australia; Denmark; the Aga Khan Development Network; Canada; the European Union; the Netherlands; Turkey; the United Kingdom; the United Nations; and the United States. This statement is also joined and endorsed by: the Republic of Bulgaria; Finland; France; Germany; India; Italy; Japan; the NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan; Norway; Spain; and Sweden.