Norden in Afghanistan: The Implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Nordic engagement in Afghanistan

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
The Finnish 1325 Network
Southern Asia

This study was undertaken by The Finnish 1325 Network with the aim to examine how the Nordic countries have integrated the objectives of UNSCR 1325 into their policy and activities regarding Afghanistan. The report was conducted as a desk-study and draws on policy strategies, evaluations, and recent academic writings of relevant Nordic ministries, development agencies and research institutes.

Since 2001 there have been some improvements in the situation of women in Afghanistan, but the gender commitments of the Afghan government are still far from fulfilled. Many sources have expressed the legitimate fear that women‟s (re)gained rights will be traded off in the coming peace negotiations. The transition of security responsibilities to Afghan authorities is planned to take place in 2014. However, the country is highly dependent on international aid, and the international involvement in Afghanistan is likely to continue also after the military operations.

In the development policy of the Nordic countries gender is a cross-cutting consideration, and since 2009 Nordic embassies in Kabul have been developing a Joint Gender Action Initiative in order to strengthen their efforts to promote gender equality and women‟s rights. However, Nordic countries should devote more efforts to the planning, monitoring and reporting of different development programs, and require gender specific information from their partners. Due to the volatile situation in Afghanistan, military and security priorities affect the development work, and gender issues are easily compromised.

The integration of UNSCR 1325 into military and civilian crisis management varies between Nordic countries. Sweden is apparently a leading actor in this field, also in terms of providing training on gender issues. The gender mainstreaming was not as efficient among Norwegian and Finnish ISAF-troops. Working with UNSCR 1325 cannot be reduced to only concern the female representation in military and police missions, although the role of female staff is essential for reaching the Afghan women. The ability of ISAF-soldiers to protect Afghan women from the violence seems very limited, and investing in building up the police and justice sector forms an important means to fight against violence against women.

The key findings and recommendations include:

  • There is a need for more critical research both on gender issues in Afghanistan and activities on gender by Nordic and other international donors. A joint Nordic research project could make use of the Nordic expertise in gender and Afghanistan of all the five countries.

  • The expertise and knowledge of UNSCR 1325 in Nordic countries should be identified, covering all the institutions responsible for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and the persons who have experience in working with the UNSCR 1325, e.g. Nordic gender advisers from international missions, civil servants, researchers, civil society activists etc.

  • The progress of the Joint Gender Action Initiative of the Nordic embassies should be followed up by all the relevant Nordic actors involved with the implementation of UNSCR 1325.

  • Afghanistan is a challenging environment for promoting gender equality and women‟s rights, but cultural relativism should not become an excuse for inaction. Ensuring women‟s participation in the peace process is one of the key objectives of UNSCR 1325.

WILPF-Finland was involved in the preparation of this document. To read the full report, see the linked file.

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Norden in Afghanistan_Finnish 1325 Network_2011