Nargis Nehan, center right, the executive director and founder of Equility for Peace and Democracy, speaks about the role women and youth play in Afghanistan's effort to achieve peace during a luncheon at the Serena Hotel, June 25. (Photo by Sgt. April Campbell)
KABUL, Afghanistan (June 25, 2012) — Afghan civil society leaders and members of several non-governmental organizations met with Afghan High Peace Council and International Security Assistance Force leaders for a luncheon at the Serena Hotel, June 25, to discuss the role women and youth play as the nation continues to strive for peace.
"We will not achieve peace if we sacrifice the rights of half the people of the nation,” said Qasemyar Ismael of Afghanistan's High Peace Council. "A peace based on principles and justice—this is what our people want. Our women and youth need to understand that peace is for them. ”
Eleven representatives from five international and national civil society organizations attended the event, which was hosted by Ismael along with the NATO Senior Civilian Representative to ISAF Amb. Simon Gass and British Royal Marine Maj. Gen. David Hook, of ISAF's Force Reintegration Cell.
"The luncheon offered Afghan civil society representatives from women and youth organizations an opportunity to voice their concerns to Afghan leaders in the High Peace Council,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cdr. John Bright, a member ISAF's Force Reintegration Cell who helped coordinate the afternoon.
One such concern was voiced by Samira Hamidi, of the Afghan Women's Network, is the need to inform and educate women about the peace process and the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program.
"Women must play a considerable part in peace and reintegration,” said Hamidi. "We must publicly demonstrate the role of women in this process.”
Although women have begun to play a larger role in the Afghan government, Hamidi also expressed her concern that this role should be even larger—at least 33 percent.
While Gass explained that decisions about the peace process and women and youth issues must be made by the Afghan people, he re-iterated that NATO and the international community's commitment to continue to help Afghanistan through 2014 and beyond depends upon Afghanistan's measurable progress in these areas.
By Army Sgt. April Campbell
ISAF Public Affiars